Transplant Patient Pays It Forward with Rolling Stones Tickets

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SCRANTON -- A man in Lackawanna County was really looking forward to this past weekend. He had tickets to see one of his favorite bands -- The Rolling Stones -- in concert.

Tony Harding, 50, from Scranton, has been on dialysis for more than a year. He has polycystic kidney disease and had a transplant 13 years ago. His sister was his donor.

Kidneys have a shelf life, and Tony always knew he'd one day need another transplant. But that never stopped him from hopping in his car and seeing what he wants to see.

"The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Bob Seger, Ralphie's House in Cleveland," said Harding, rattling off the list.

Next on his list: the legendary Rolling Stones, in Buffalo, New York over the weekend. There were two tickets with Tony's name on them. Nothing was going to keep him from that concert except one thing.

"About a week ago, I got a call at 2:15 in the morning said they had a kidney for me. In 24 hours, I was in recovery."

In another part of Lackawanna County, Kaitlyn Hentschel, 15, of Vandling was focusing on her treatments for cystic fibrosis, a chronic lung issue with which she was born.

"I do half hour treatments each day and breathing treatments. I take about 50 medications a day," Kaitlyn explained.

Then she and her mom Tanya got a call they didn't expect. Instead of selling the tickets, Tony had asked Geisinger Medical Center to help him find a deserving recipient to go in his place.

"She goes through a lot," said Tanya Hentschel. "So to be able to get away from it, to get to see legends like the Stones, who could ask for more than that?"

Saturday afternoon, Geisinger sent a town car to pick up Tanya and Kaitlyn, who promised to document everything so Tony could feel like he was there right along with her.

That included a cystic fibrosis treatment in the car on the way.

But she also sent him photo after photo of a packed house at the stadium in Buffalo and an amazing show.

She admits it was her mom who was really excited at first.

"I like One Direction, and Five Seconds of Summer," said Kaitlyn. "But I can get used to the Rolling Stones."

And she says that Maroon 5 song "Moves Like Jagger" makes a whole lot more sense to her now!

But in the end, the concert itself took a backseat to the bigger message.

"Yes, it's awesome getting the tickets, but I think it's great that he got his kidney. That's the real important thing about this," Kaitlyn said.

"Mick was right," Tony said. "I wanted to go to the concert, but I needed a kidney. You can't always get what you want, but you get what you need, right?"

Next trip on Tony Harding's list? He plans to see a Steelers game this fall, and whatever great concert comes up. He says it's nice to be able to say he has plenty of time and good health to do it.