LAS VEGAS - It took rigorous testing, a huge change in diet and six months of exercise for Kim Merrell to drop 40 pounds.
"I had to cut out bread and cheese, which are my favorites," she said.
The steps were part of a process she had to fulfill to become a kidney donor. "Why not? You can live with one," she said.
She's very open about the process, because she says she always knew she would donate something. She just didn't know what it would be.
"I read a lot of information about organ donation, watched every video I could, read all the bad stories I could," she said. "I wanted to be prepared for anything that could happen."
On August 30, 2012, she had the procedure done.
"The day she went in for surgery, for three hours of surgery, was the longest day of my life," said her mother Melody Lowry.
"You don't really think about the risks. They're presented to you time and time again during the whole process, but helping somebody to better health was so much bigger," Merrell said. "I wake up every morning, thinking about it - knowing that there is somebody here in Las Vegas that is hopefully living a better life, and that I helped them do that."
"I think this is the ultimate act of kindness," said Lowry. "We just keep reminding ourselves. The gift is in the giving."
Transplant Services of Nevada paid for her surgery. She is scheduled for her one year check-up this Friday. If everything looks good, she says she will consider donating something else.
8 News NOW is rewarding Kim Merrell's sacrifice, giving her $800 as part of its weekly series Acts of Kindness.