EDISON - A former New Jersey wrestling star desperately in need of a kidney transplant may have found a match in an unlikely place — his girlfriend.

The New Jersey wrestling community tried desperately to get Brett Epps a kidney transplant. Epps was a record-setting wrestler from Rutgers Prep. He was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease, which forced him to undergo days of nine-hour dialysis treatments.

Over time his kidneys were damaged beyond repair, forcing him to get a transplant. 

According to the National Kidney Foundation, about 100,000 people in the United States are waiting for a kidney transplant. Epps’s family decided it would be best to find a living donor.

The wrestler’s former high school coach offered, but wasn’t a match. A family friend offered as well and even made his way to the operating table, but a complication prevented the procedure from happening.

Epps’ girlfriend, Alixandra Cirigliano, was also a match, but he did not want to put her at risk. He said that he was supposed to protect her. Eventually Epps gave in.

“She was very persistent and did it anyway,” Epps says. “It really just showed her love for me, and I really can’t thank her enough for that.”

They are cautiously optimistic that surgery next month will finally work.  If so, the couple plans to get engaged.

“It’s coming soon, I guess I’ve got to keep her around now,” Epps jokes.  

The couple lives in North Carolina now. They work for the same company and have been dating for about three years.