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“He’s like family to me, and I’d do anything for him,” says Derrick (“St@tus”) Santiago about Eric (“E.S.”) Sanchez. Santiago and Sanchez make up the local hip-hop duo Secret Service.

Santiago was talking about donating one of his kidneys to Sanchez, who in 2006 was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, an autoimmune disorder that affects the kidneys.

On December 10, Secret Service checked into UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest for kidney-transplant surgery.

“Looking at him in the hospital was emotional,” says Sanchez, who is recovering from the procedure in his Serra Mesa home. “He’s a new father and is engaged. I couldn’t stop thinking about everything. It was scary.”

Sanchez and Santiago have known each other since they were teenagers and started writing and performing music together 16 years ago.

Since that 2006 diagnosis, when he wasn’t attached to a dialysis machine, Sanchez looked for a suitable kidney donor.

Santiago took the tests to see if his kidney would be a match. While doing so, in November 2009, the hip-hop duo decided to get back to making music.

“Everybody was responding to the new tracks and we were getting gigs, but we had to turn them down because of the dialysis treatments,” says Sanchez. “I guess you could say my disease was an inconvenience and was putting a strain on trying to make this music thing happen.”

Last summer, Santiago got word that his kidney was a suitable match for his friend.

It’s been several weeks since the transplant, and Sanchez’s and Santiago’s recoveries are apparently progressing. On January 23, Secret Service started recording a new track at Batkave Studios in Rolando for a record due out in May.

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