MOORHEAD — As another Mass unfolded at St. Joseph Catholic Church on Sunday, July 19, the gathering held special meaning to some.
For Carlos Diaz and his family, it was their first Mass since Diaz had a kidney transplant last month, which he said came with its share of twists and turns.
"In April we were a go, and then seven days later we weren't, because the doctors at Mayo said, 'We can find — maybe — a better match,'" Diaz, of Hawley, said.
Diaz and his wife, Sara, have two children, daughter Kaelyn and son Alex.
Once they got the call for a match, a feeling of relief swept over the family.
"I've been noticing how much stuff he has to go through and how many pills he had to take, but yeah, it's pretty much a miracle," Kaelyn Diaz said.
The match the Diazes were looking for was standing at the altar Sunday, as Paul Erickson, the deacon at St. Joseph, became a living kidney donor.
"I just try to be aware of the moment and aware of what people need, and what I can do to help, and that's really been sort of me all along," Erickson said.
After the surgery, Diaz and Erickson spent two days in the hospital before getting discharged.
Although they didn't know each other at first, the operation has brought these former strangers closer.
Diaz said he's still in disbelief about the second chance Erickson gave him.
"I'm beyond words grateful for his willingness to do that," Carlos Diaz said.
"It makes you take a step back and really think about what people are willing to do, and for me, it's heaven-sent," Sara Diaz said. "It's definitely a gift."
Diaz plans on going back to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for a biopsy this October, and will keep going back yearly.