Long journey for ‘kidney buddies’ leads to 5K at Riverfront Park

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Nearly 115,000 people currently need an organ transplant. But, only about 30,000 transplants are performed annually.

On Saturday, two strangers connected by a similar journey walked together for the Midwest Transplant Network 5K at Riverfront Park. The event raises awareness about the importance of organ donors.

Julika Wocial is a marine biologist and organ donor living in Boston. She connected with Jamie Fountaine, a Kansas native, online nearly a year ago. Jamie was getting ready to donate her kidney to her father.

"When she texted me that she was here, I actually had tears in my eyes and I was thinking I don't want to get emotional," said Wocial.

Julika became Jaimie's mentor during the operation and recovery process, helping to give advice and comfort on her tough days.

"You can ask a nurse but if they have never lived it, then I feel like you just need someone who has already gone through it," said Fountaine.

The two friends have been "kidney buddies" for more than a year now.