Strong emotions are not uncommon at municipal public meetings, but they're usually directed at matters such as street lights, storm drains or taxes. The energy during Lakewood's Township Committee session was all positive as kidney donors and recipients described how the experience changed their lives.

Kidney Donors and Recipients along with Lakewood Township Committee (Townsquare Media)

Deputy Mayor Steven Langert, whose wife is a donor, organized the gathering at which each participant received a commendation from the township. Several took a few minutes each to relate their personal tales to the packed assemblage.

Many of them became involved through the Renewal kidney transplant network,

Sharon Langert explained that the decision to donate a kidney is almost instinctual."If you have that in your head, 'that's something that I want to do,'" she exhorted the crowd, "pick up the phone and call Renewal." She was among many who pointed out that human bodies function just as well with one kidney as with two - and that those without any are, literally, dying to be given one.

Shmuel Waldman recounted his epiphany while visiting a renal dialysis clinic, in which patients routinely endure hours of treatment to remove toxins from their bloodstreams. "I knew I couldn't help everyone there," he mused, "but  I decided to see if I could qualify to change the life of one person."

Leia Topaz is a young mother who got a second chance at life with a kidney from someone she doesn't even know in mid-2011. "For as long as Iive, I won't understand this," she marveled. "People who [are] more like angels living among us."

According to the National Kidney Foundation, the success rate of transplants is growing but not without risks. Body rejection, surgical complications or a resurgence of a latent disease in a donated kidney remain factors to consider in consultation.

Recovery period is usually four to six days. Several major medical associations recommend that donors refrain from high-contact sports from that point forward, engage in long-term medical followups, and be aware of the risk of developing high blood pressure.

See more about the procedure at