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Tampa Bay area families bond following teen's kidney transplant

Posted at 4:24 PM, Apr 02, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — Raj Guntuku was an active 13-year-old boy, but doctors told him he had chronic kidney disease and would need a transplant in September.

"The first few times with dialysis, maybe I was a little nervous, but after that, I got used to it," said Raj.

Raj's family did everything they could to try and find a donor. They even advertised on a mobile billboard.

But it was an article of the Neighborhood News that caught the attention of Joel Morales.

A quick glance at the story and the picture of Raj and his dog Benji convinced Joel he wanted to help.

"It's not something that I ever thought about doing before — ever considered. Ever dreamed that was a thing," said Joel.

Thankfully Joel was a match, and on March 4, Raj got his kidney.

"It's a very big thing to ask from people, and I think it's very good and great that he did it. And that's why we thank him every time we meet," Raj said.


Since the surgery, the two have bonded playing Fortnite — their families have bonded too.

"It's just crazy how quickly life changes and how much their family means to me and my family over the last month and a half," said Joel.