Life became daunting when Carolyn DiFabrizio was diagnosed with Stage 5 kidney disease.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- If something is happening on the 2600 block of South 11th Street in South Philadelphia, George Johnson probably knows about it.
He's lived within 10 blocks of the area his entire life.
"I've lived here 43 years," he said. "Nowhere else I'd rather be."
Johnson knows just about everyone and everything happening in his area, including the best place for neighborhood eats. He's a regular at Steak 'Em Up on South 11th Street.
"He comes in every day for coffee," said Carolyn DiFabrizio, who has worked the counter at Steak 'Em Up for about 17 years.
Life, though, became daunting when DiFabrizio was diagnosed with Stage 5 kidney disease.
"I had kidney failure. I had congestive heart failure," she said of her health battle, which turned serious when she got COVID.
That was also while she was already dealing with diabetes and the physical and emotional trauma of losing her son.
DiFabrizio kept working as she did daily at-home dialysis while looking for a kidney donor. Her boyfriend wasn't a match and her mother couldn't donate due to her age.
One day in January of last year, DiFabrizio was feeling overwhelmed by it all when Johnson came in for his daily stop.
"I came in like I usually do for coffee," he recalled.
Johnson added that DiFabrizio asked him to hand her the creamer, which was on the opposite side of the counter from where she was working.
"I gave it to her, and I said, 'Is there anything else I can get you?'" he recalled, not anticipating DiFabrizio would have quite an unusual answer.
"I said, 'Yeah, if you got an extra kidney, I'll take it!'" she joked.
Despite her attempt at humor, Johnson's answer was no joke.
"I said, 'Yeah, sure! Why not?' About a week later, I went, called, got tested, and everything. And everything came back that I'm a match!" he said.
The fact that Johnson would be a match is almost unbelievable because more than 6,600 people in Pennsylvania are on the waitlist for an organ donation.
"Out of a world full of people, how did that become possible? I'm still floored," said DiFabrizio.
The two underwent kidney transplant surgery on December 23, 2023. The surgery went well, and both are on the mend.
They're using their experience to raise awareness, often having conversations with others in person and on social media to share hope.
"To people out there, don't give up hope. That's what I have to say because God is good and will be there," said DiFabrizio.
She says her life has been forever changed by the selfless act of a "regular" who is anything but.
"Just did the right thing," said Johnson. "That's all I can do."
DiFabrizio and Johnson are both taking a break from their jobs as they heal. To help them, Steak 'Em Up is holding a Beef and Beer benefit on February 3 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Vikings NYB Hall.
It's located at 1815 South 11th Street and tickets are $40. You can find more information on the shop's Facebook.