JERSEYVILLE, Ill. — While many of us were ringing in the new year with friends at home, or out and about, a Jerseyville family spent its last moments of 2019 in the hospital hoping a life-changing operation would go smoothly.
It's something the Neunaber family has been waiting for more than a decade to happen.
Brad Neunaber has been on dialysis, hoping and praying for a new kidney for the last 13 years.
"Dialysis isn't easy," explained Brad. "No, you're tired, worn out and you can't do things with your family."
It's those missed trips and time with family that's weighed most on Brad over the years.
"Me and my son were at Walmart a couple weeks ago and we ran into Santa Claus. Mason wanted a hard suitcase for traveling and I asked Santa for a new kidney for Christmas," said Brad.
Just days after talking to the big guy, the Neunaber's Christmas miracle finally came calling, a new kidney for Brad.
"I wanted to do it for my wife and son more than anything," explained Brad.
But this isn't Brad's first battle with his kidneys, his first transplant in 2000 was rejected putting him back on dialysis and looking for another donor in 2006.
"Now we won't have to worry about planning dialysis times and we can go on trips and do what we want," explained Brad.
Mason Neunaber asked Santa for a suitcase, and he'll use it complete his Christmas wish of going on a cruise with his dad.
"I've been on one before just me and [mom] because he couldn't go on it, but now I want to go on one again," said Mason.
A whole family who are grateful for a stranger who finally granted this wish.
"It's the greatest gif they could give him, it's just life-changing," said Susan Neunaber.
"I would recommend everyone to donate, to help somebody out," added Brad.
"Do you feel this is a new lease on life for you?" 5 On Your Side's Brandon Merano asked.
"Oh yes, yes I really do," answered Brad.
Brad's dialysis doctor says Brad has been a true inspiration for him, his staff and fellow patients, adding that he's never seen anyone more resilient.
If you'd like to learn more about how to sign up to be an organ donor click here.