Monday marked three years since Tiffany learned she needed a new kidney. The developmentally disabled Clifton resident, 21 years old at the time, was nearing full renal failure.

Monday also happened to mark two weeks since Tiffany received the lifesaving transplant she'd been needing, following years of dialysis three times a week, three-and-a-half hours per session.

"I always had it in the back of my mind, if I could do something about this, I'd like to. And I was ecstatic to find out that I could," said Joseph Porretta, a retired New Jersey parole officer who donated his kidney to start a countrywide organ transplant chain that would end with Tiffany getting one of her own.

"Her kidney came from Utah, and my kidney went to California, to a 37-year-old gentleman," Porretta, 51, said.

Tiffany is the biological niece of Porretta's best friend, who took legal guardianship of Tiffany 16 years ago. Porretta's kidney was a match for Tiffany, but due to their difference in age, the pair turned to the NJ Sharing Network in hopes of making a connection.

Porretta ended up being one of eight donors in the chain, he said.

"It's just a fantastic feeling that you can not only help your friend, but someone else that you don't even know is going to be able to be free from dialysis," he said.

Porretta and Tiffany each went under the knife on Oct. 2. Recovery is going very well for both patients. Porretta's been walking every day since surgery, and Tiffany is looking forward to making a return to the Special Olympics summer games next June in Trenton.

"Joe was our savior. I could never repay him for the gift of life he's given to my daughter," said Joseph Bray. "If he ever needs anything, he knows he's got it from me. He's truly a special person."

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.