By Kelly Werthmann

DENVER — A California family’s tragedy became a Colorado family’s miracle this Christmas week.

Joe Benevides of Sheridan has been on the kidney recipient waiting list for more than three years. He’s never complained about his battle with diabetes and kidney failure, according to his daughters, but began to lose hope when two attempted donations didn’t work out this year.

Joe Benevides (credit: Benevides family)

“Everybody’s mood at that point was just like let’s just get through the holidays and then we’ll start back up the first of the year,” Christina Benevides, Joe’s daughter, said.

Yet on Christmas Eve, everything changed.

“Definitely a miracle,” Jennie Trujillo, Joe’s other daughter, said. “In every sense of the word.”

A family friend in California called Joe’s wife to tell her a relative tragically passed away. Brian Guzman, 21, was attacked on his way home in Bakersfield, California, according to Trujillo. The young father was an organ donor and his kidney was a perfect match for Joe.

Brian Guzman (credit: Benevides family)

“We’re just like, ‘Oh my gosh! This is crazy!” Christina said.

Three days later, on December 27th, Joe was in surgery at UCHealth getting a gift he calls bittersweet.

“He said that it was very upsetting that someone had to lose their life in order for him to get his second chance,” Christina said through tears.

In an effort to give back, Joe’s family is hoping to spread the word about a fundraiser that’s collecting money for Guzman’s funeral.

“He deserves the best treatment we can give him,” Trujillo told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.

(credit: CBS)

Trujillo explained that Guzman’s death ultimately saved her father’s life and six others. It’s a bittersweet reminder of how checking one small box to become an organ donor, can make a big difference.

“Mark that box,” Trujillo said. “You don’t need any of those things when you’re not here, but obviously seven other people did and [Guzman] was able to help save them.”

Joe’s transplant surgery Thursday afternoon was successful, according to his daughters. He will spend a few more days at the hospital before he can continue his recovery at home. The family said they plan to make a visit to Guzman’s family in California later next year so they can thank them in person.



Kelly Werthmann


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