Man diagnosed with same disease as twin brother when he tries to donate kidney

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE/CNN) - Twin brothers in Rhode Island are hoping to find another organ donor after one brother learned he had stage 4 kidney disease when he tried to donate to his twin.

Alex Peguero, 26, found out he had end stage renal disease when he tried to donate a kidney to his twin brother, who was diagnosed with the same thing a few years earlier. (Source: Luisa Peguero/WLNE/CNN)

Alex Peguero, 26, has end stage renal disease and has been undergoing dialysis treatment since December 2019.

"Your kidneys get to a point where they can't filter waste products,” he said.

The 26-year-old only found out about his illness because he tried to donate a kidney to his twin brother, Nick Peguero, who was diagnosed with the same disease a few years earlier.

When Nick ended up on dialysis, Alex decided to see if he’d be a donor match. The brothers’ worlds turned upside down when they learned Alex would end up in the same predicament.

"I'm devastated. It hit me really hard at first,” Nick Peguero said. "You don't really know how short life is."

After just a year on dialysis, Nick found a donor in Diane Gebhart, and he says he’s been living a normal life ever since.

"I don’t have to worry about getting home on time to be hooked up to a machine at night, every day. I live my own life like everybody else, like a normal 26-year-old,” he said.

Now, he’s hoping the same thing will happen for his twin.

"I just hope that the same luck falls in his lap," he said.

Gebhart says if she had another kidney, she would donate to Alex, too. But as she doesn’t, it could take three to five years to find Alex the right person off a transplant list.

"I learned to deal with it. You can’t really pick and choose what you go through, so, you’ve got to deal with what you’ve got,” Alex Peguero said.

Anyone interested in being a donor can contact the Rhode Island Hospital Kidney Donor Coordinator at 401-444-3091.

The family has also set up a GoFundMe page to spread awareness of Alex’s situation and possibly provide some financial support while the 26-year-old is out of work due to treatment.

Copyright 2020 WLNE, Luisa and Nick Peguero via CNN. All rights reserved.