Paramedic donates kidney to former partner

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Chris Cruz' symptoms are literally chilling.

"I am tired, I could sleep as long as I want, I still wake up tired," he said. "I have a problem regulating body temperature. I am cold all the time."

After 14 years of having a rare kidney disease, Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, his kidneys are only 13 percent effective, meaning in  just a few weeks, its dialysis or death.

"My youngest doesn't understand what is going on. he is only seven," said Cruz. "My oldest does know what is oging on, he is already in high school. He knows exactly what is coming forward."

Cruz is a paramedic for Highlands County. His former on-the-job partner, Jason Hobbs, says they had always been close.

"For the lack of a better term, we are brothers," Hobbs said. "He would have a space heater on his feet during a 90 degree day. That sparked the conversation."

They discussed Cruz' ailment.

"He said, 'I am trying to get on the waiting list,'" recalled Hobbs. "I asked him what the protocol was to be a living donor transplant."

A potential wait of years turned into a few tests.

"Never in a million years did I think I was going to be a match, and at that, a perfect match," said Hobbs.

But he was. Just as when they were partners, Hobbs didn't have to think about his next move.

"[I was asked if I] still want to go through with it, on a scale of 1 to 10? I [said] a 12."

On December 1, both will go into surgery at Tampa General Hospital. Jason's kidney, will become Chris.'

"I don't think it has hit me yet," said Cruz.

Chris notes that Jason can back out at anytime. But no pressure, it's just that his entire life is about to change.

"I don't know what to expect. I don't know how I am going to feel," said Cruz. "They say I am going to feel like I can run a marathon on the second day."

"[I am feeling] elation for him and his family to be able to go out and do things he couldn't do before, to not have to worry fifteen years down the road I could potentially be dead," said Hobbs.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Cruz at: