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Liver donor and recipient running New York City Marathon together

Friends with special bond running NYC Marathon together
Friends with special bond running NYC Marathon together 01:48

Among the 33,000 runners in the 50th New York City Marathon Sunday will be two friends with an uncommon bond. It will be a celebration of life for Sara Kate Gillingham and Dave Kane.

"It's really nice to be able to sit here and smile and laugh about it. But it was a very dark time," says Gillingham.

That dark time dates back more than four years, when Kane was fighting for his life. "The diagnosis was pretty grim," he says.

Doctors found cancer in the bile ducts of his liver. He needed a transplant.

When word spread on Facebook, Gillingham, already a friend, stepped up.

"I don't know, I just felt a calling. I felt like I am in a really good position to do this," she says.

Four years after Sara Kate Gillingham donated part of her liver to her friend Dave Kane, they'll be running the New York City Marathon together on November 7, 2021. CBS News

Doctors removed 60% of Gillingham's liver and transplanted it into Kane.

"Sara Kate saved my life," Kane says. "That's what's so great about this opportunity to run and to publicize, you know, the incredible bravery and generosity and love of Sara Kate and the opportunity to be a donor."

When they race on Sunday, they'll be raising money for the American Liver Foundation and, they hope, raising awareness about organ donation.

When asked if there was one thing she would want the public to know about being a living donor, Gillingham said, "I guess it's that it's totally possible to make a bigger impact on the world than you think is possible by doing this — digging deep in yourself to give something that is very scary."

Gillingham now coaches other donors through the experience and says saving Kane's life added meaning to her own.

Gillingham and Kane began planning last year, but the 2020 NYC Marathon was canceled because of the pandemic.

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