Football rivalry doesn't stop man from donating kidney to a stranger in need

The donation made a world of difference for a young woman who was receiving daily dialysis treatments before surgery and began hiking within two weeks of her release from the hospital.


Ken Burke said he was looking through social media one day and found a post about a woman in her twenties who was looking for a kidney.

In March, Burke drove from his home in Buffalo to Boston to give his kidney to Cassie Yahnian.

The two were not only strangers, but rivals.

Burke is a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan, while Yahnian cheers for the New England Patriots.

"You know, she may be a Patriots fan on the outside, but she's a Bills fan on the inside," Burke told Spectrum News Buffalo.

When the coronavirus pandemic began, both Burke and Yahnian were recovering from their surgeries.

For Yahnian, Burke's donation made a world of difference.

"I hope that there's other people out there who are in my situation and it kind of gives them hope that there's more people like Ken that are willing to donate and help them," she told the station.

Before surgery, Yahnian was undergoing daily dialysis treatments for her kidney disease. Now, she said she feels great and was able to start hiking within two weeks of being discharged from the hospital.

"Everyone's ingrained with that feeling of someone's life is better because you were here," Burke said of his decision to donate. "And it was one of those kind of things like, I know for 100% certainty someone's life is completely different because I had the courage to show up that day."