San Tan Valley man gets kidney in three-way swap with other living donors

Posted: Updated:
A San Tan Valley man received a much-needed kidney in a three-way swap where his wife donated to a stranger. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A San Tan Valley man received a much-needed kidney in a three-way swap where his wife donated to a stranger. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Matt and two others in need got kidneys from McKenna and two other living donors in a three-way swap. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Matt and two others in need got kidneys from McKenna and two other living donors in a three-way swap. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Matt was released within three days and the couple is recuperating nicely. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Matt was released within three days and the couple is recuperating nicely. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
SAN TAN VALLEY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

It happens quite often. Someone wants to give an organ to a loved one to save their life, but they are not a match.

That was the situation that Matt and McKenna Kuntzi of San Tan Valley found themselves in.

Matt, who has had Type I diabetes since he was 12 years old, suffered kidney failure and had a transplant in 2010. But earlier this year, he went into rejection.

His wife, McKenna, wanted to donate one of her kidneys, but tests confirm she was not a match.

“I was a bit disappointed when I found out that we weren't a match. I had high hopes because we were the same blood type,” said McKenna.

Matt was undergoing kidney dialysis three times a week while he was on the donation list, a wait of between five and seven years.

Then the couple learned about another list available. This one a donation pair list. It’s a living organ donation option where multiple couples swap organs for those who are matches.

“I was concerned because it's a surgery. And I kind of felt like if she doesn't have to do this then I really don't really want her to. But she wanted to be involved in it from the start. It wasn't anything that I ever had to ask her. She just wanted to play a part in saving me and getting me back to life and finally, I kind of had to let her do it,” said Matt.

Within six months the Kuntzis were in a three-way swap with two other donor pairs, one from Pennsylvania and one from New Jersey.

“No hesitation. This is just something I needed to do. It's really hard to explain. You just feel it, you know. I just felt like this was something I was supposed to do in life,” said McKenna.

The operation took place on Nov. 11 at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix. Matt was released within three days and the couple is recuperating nicely.

“I'm humbled that I was able to be a part of this. I'm really honored and proud that I was able to do this. Knowing that you had an impact on someone's life, not only just an impact but like a life-changing, lifesaving impact, is something that will stay with me forever and ever,” said McKenna.

The couple plans a cross-country road trip to Florida for the holidays to visit family. They are planning to take their two four-legged friends with them.

“There's [sic] so many people on the list and they all have unique stories. Some of them are young. Some of them are old. It's not as hard as some people may think it is to do it. But, if you know someone and you care about them maybe look a little further into it because there's usually a lot of misinformation out there and I know we learned a lot,” said Matt.

After the holidays, Matt plans to return to his full-time job on Jan. 2. 

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Donna RossiEmmy Award-winning reporter Donna Rossi joined CBS 5 News in September 1994.

Click to learn more about Donna.

Donna Rossi

In that time, Donna has covered some of the most high-profile stories in the Valley and across the state. Donna's experience as a four-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department gives her a keen sense of crime and court stories. She offered gavel to gavel coverage of the 1999 sleepwalking murder trial of Scott Falater, and the trial and conviction of retired Catholic Bishop Thomas O'Brien for a fatal hit and run accident. She also spent 2 straight weeks in northeastern Arizona in the summer of 2011 covering the Wallow Fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona history.

Donna's reputation as a fair and accurate journalist has earned her the respect of her colleagues and community. Her talent as a reporter has earned her more than a dozen Arizona Associated Press Awards and five Emmy statue.

Donna previously worked as an anchor and reporter in Tucson and got her start in broadcast journalism in Flagstaff. Donna is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently serves on the NATAS board. She is a member of IFP/Phoenix, a non-profit organization of local film and documentary makers.

Donna was born in New York and moved to the Valley with her family when she was 9 years old. She is a graduate of Maryvale High School and attended Arizona State University. She graduated cum laude from Northern Arizona University.

In her free time, Donna enjoys boating on Bartlett Lake, all forms of music and theatre. Donna frequently donates her time to speak to community organizations and emcee their events. She is a past board member of DUET, a non-profit which helps promote health and well-being for older adults. Donna also loves donating her time to youth organizations and groups who work to secure and safeguard human rights.

On Oct. 17, 2015, Donna was honored for her amazing work over the years. The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences inducted her into its Silver Circle. It's one of the organization's most prestigious honors for which only a few candidates are selected each year.

Hide bio