Max M. Zapata

Clovis, CA
Living Kidney Donor

“I felt that God was working on me to do something extraordinary.”

Max ZapataMax Zapata (center in picture), one of 11 siblings, was born to Mike and Luz Zapata. He grew up in Selma, California in a family full of love and worship.

Max is a Dairy Manager for the Vons/Safeway Inc. grocery store chain in the city of Clovis, California. Sometime during 2008, Max read a notice on the bottom of one of his paycheck stubs encouraging all employees to help save lives through organ donation. “I paused and thought ‘Wow!’ I felt that God was working on me to do something extraordinary,” explains Max. Sometime later, the same notice was printed again on Max’s paycheck stub. This time, Max immediately felt compelled to do something. “I went to the hospital to gather some information, but didn’t follow through to be tested.”

Shortly thereafter, someone in Max’s church group requested prayers for a family member who was dying from kidney failure. “I did not need any more signs,” said Max. “This time God told me it was time: I approached the family member and encouraged them to pray for God’s will to be done. Losing faith and distraught, they found it hard to believe that help was on the way. I told them to believe and have faith because I would be tested and donate if I was a viable match.” That person ultimately received a kidney from a family member and Max was given the opportunity to be an altruistic donor to someone else.

That someone else would be Laura Amador (at right in photo), a 27-year-old vibrant college student stricken with kidney disease that had destroyed her kidneys. Her brother, Paul (at left in photo), had been willing to donate one his kidneys to his sister, but was not a match. So, the two decided to take part in a kidney chain, in which Paul would donate his kidney to a stranger. In return, Laura would get a kidney from another stranger.

Their chain began on June 25, 2009 with Max donating his kidney to Laura. Paul’s kidney then went to a man whose wife, in turn, donated her kidney to someone else, and so on. The chain involved 20 surgeries (10 transplants) linking Fresno to San Francisco to New York to Philadelphia to Los Angeles and Stanford. Who would have thought one act of giving could lead to something as powerful as a chain of people giving to one another the gift of life!

“This organ donation journey has been amazing, and the incredible part is that it’s not over yet,” said Max, “Michael Jackson, who passed away the very same day I donated my kidney, wrote a song which says it best: ‘If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change!’ We can all make a difference by as simple an action as giving a kind word to someone in need which can lead to that person being someone who makes a difference in another one’s life.”