It wasn't a hand of God that saved Manu Ranchod's life. It was the kidney of a pastor.
The Petone man was having five-hour dialysis treatment three times a week when his wife asked her Calvary Chapel pastor, David Pham, to pray for his health. Pham went further than that, offering his kidney.
The men were among a group of kidney recipients and donors celebrating organ donation by planting freesia bulbs at Te Omanga Gardens in Lower Hutt yesterday for New Zealand's first Thank You Day.
Pham decided it was something Jesus was guiding him to do - specifically in a verse from St John's gospel - and his family were supportive.
He had already contacted renal specialists to offer his kidney to anyone who needed it, but then heard of the plight of his parishioner's husband.
"Take that step, it's a step of faith," he said. "People need to know that they can be a donor and still live a healthy life."
And Pham would know.
He was running two weeks after his operation and back to his 40km-a-week regime before completing the AMI Round the Bays half-marathon a couple of months later.
The transplant was almost halted when a heart defect was detected in Pham, but he rejected a cardiologist's advice and decided to go ahead anyway.
"If I can give someone a better quality of life now, then I will take that risk."
Ranchod was not a parishioner in his wife Puspa's church, but he now had a lifelong connection to her pastor.
"We have got a good bond and friendship now and that will last forever," Ranchod said.
And he has a unique bond with his wife of 33 years, who herself had a kidney transplant in 2009.
The Naenae teacher received a kidney from a dead donor, and never guessed her husband would need a transplant three years later.
Capital & Coast DHB renal service clinical leader Murray Leikis said there had been about a 50/50 chance that Pham would be a match for Ranchod. There was more to consider in live donations, but if they were fit and healthy, they usually found a way.
Currently 55 Wellingtonians were waiting for kidneys and 400 in New Zealand. Last year, 27 people received kidney transplants in the Wellington region, three of which were altruistic donations such as Pham's.