24-Year-Old Man Finds Love and a New Kidney Through Tinder: 'Never Would've Expected That'

"It means so much because to me, he made the ultimate sacrifice," Reid Alexander says of his new husband and kidney donor, Rafael Dìaz

Reid Alexander and Rafael Dìaz
Rafael Dìaz (left) and Reid Alexander with their wedding cake. Photo: Courtesy Reid Alexander and Rafael Dìaz

A 24-year-old man got his happy ending twice over when he met his soulmate on Tinder — who was also a perfect match for the kidney transplant he needed.

Reid Alexander tells PEOPLE he's still in disbelief about how the events of the last year left him with a new husband and a second chance at life.

"Expect the unexpected," he says. "I never would've thought that I would move across the country and meet the love of my life, and then the love of my life would also be a perfect match, and I would get a kidney. Never would've expected that."

"It was meant to be," adds Alexander's husband, Rafael Dìaz, 28.

Alexander's health issues began when he was diagnosed with Alport syndrome at age 17. The inherited disease causes damage to the blood vessels in the kidney, which can lead to hearing loss, eye problems, kidney disease and kidney failure, according to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF).

In Alexander's case, after graduating college, doctors informed him that his kidneys were only functioning at 20 percent and he would need to start dialysis while he awaited a transplant.

Reid Alexander and Rafael Dìaz
Rafael Dìaz (left) and Reid Alexander. Courtesy Reid Alexander and Rafael Dìaz

Despite the scary prognosis, Alexander — who grew up in Kokomo, Indiana — carried on with his plans to move to Denver and start a new life.

"I really love it out there," he says. "I got a job two days before I was moving and I was really determined to do it. I did it on a whim."

And not long after making the move, Alexander logged onto Tinder and met Dìaz.

"We started chatting on Tinder in August 2020," Dìaz says. "Both of us [were] impressed with each other."

"We really just hit it off," recalls Alexander. "And we were together every day ever since. It felt like we knew each other for a really long time. And it still feels like that to us."

Alexander was quick to disclose his medical history, noting that it would be hard to hide due to his hearing aids and challenges with eating salt. (The progression of Alport syndrome can be slowed by limiting sodium in the diet, per the NKF.)

Reid Alexander and Rafael Dìaz
Rafael Dìaz and Reid Alexander. Natalia Burrows Photography

But Dìaz was not phased, and immediately offered support to Alexander, who was preparing to begin dialysis.

"That's when I started to put more attention into the syndrome he has," Dìaz says, noting that he didn't know anyone with a similar condition, but thought, "'Okay, that is not a problem.'"

Dìaz then offered to look into being Alexander's kidney donor. "I was like, 'No, you don't have to do that,'" Alexander recalls. "But he was very determined."

"I was very sure that I [could] do it," adds Dìaz, who was already registered as an organ donor at the time. "I just said, 'I want to. You are someone that I want, that I love, so I can do it for you.'"

Reid Alexander and Rafael Dìaz
Reid Alexander and Rafael Dìaz. Natalia Burrows Photography

From then on, things came together quickly for the couple. This February, the pair got engaged and by April, they began testing to see if Dìaz was a match.

That same month, the duo also decided to tie the knot at an intimate ceremony, opting to use the money they were saving for a destination wedding to fund Alexander's transplant.

"We were going to wait and do a big traditional wedding... but then the realization of a transplant happening this year was getting more and more likely," says Alexander. "So it was [either] saving up money for a wedding or saving up money for a transplant. And so we chose transplant."

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Reid Alexander and Rafael Dìaz
Reid Alexander and Rafael Dìaz. Natalia Burrows Photography

In June, after testing confirmed Dìaz was a perfect match, they were finally able to set a transplant date — and on Aug. 13, the couple underwent the procedure at Indiana University Health hospital.

Afterwards, they were filled with relief and emotion.

"I was in a lot of pain [initially]," Dìaz says. "But if I had to do it again, I would."

"It's not only because I love him so much, but it's also because I will be able to share life [with him] and enjoy this feeling that made [him] happy," Dìaz adds.

Reid Alexander and Rafael Dìaz
Rafael Dìaz and Reid Alexander. Courtesy Reid Alexander and Rafael Dìaz

"I don't think there's anything that I can do that shows my appreciation," Alexander says of his husband. "It means so much because to me, he made the ultimate sacrifice. He gave me an organ so that I can live a better life [and] be healthy. And that's just so amazing."

"I've already cried so much," he continues. "From the first day that I woke up in the hospital after surgery and every day after, every time we saw each other, I just cried. It means a lot to me."

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Currently recovering at Alexander's parents' home in Indiana, the pair are eager to return to Colorado.

"I think that the next step for us in this journey is to enjoy as much as we can because we never know what can happen next," Dìaz says.

They also hope their story will bring awareness to the importance of organ donation.

"You never know who [may] need you for that, or where you can help," Dìaz notes. "You can help families. You can help people. You can help to change the life of someone else and [give] someone the opportunity that they didn't have before. If you can do it, do it."

Those interested in becoming organ donors can do so here.

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