This originally appeared on Tony Jimenez’s Facebook page
This Thanksgiving is a very special one for me. My health conditions were a little rough recently. I started dialysis and later found that I had a heart blockage that required triple bypass surgery. My kidney condition deteriorated to the point that I required a transplant. The transplant team determined that I could not be placed on the 5 year plus cadaver list. I needed to find a living donor. This is where gratitude comes in.
I’m not very comfortable asking for help in any situation and asking for someone to give me a kidney was beyond my capabilities. My friends and family led me by the hand in my quest. There are so many people that became involved. First my brother posted my story on Facebook and that led to several people willingly offering to donate. One was a single mom from Bayville another was a well-known political figure who started the process but was determined to not be a match. A few others were eliminated after answering a few questions.
When a good friend, Shannon, saw the story she pitched it to our local newspaper. The Herald Gazette picked up the story (visit the LI Herald website to read the story), leading to more candidates willing to share their body with me. A good friend from my past employment with the courts Danny, made contact with Newsday, who featured my story. My former boss Bob contributed kind remarks. More exposure more offers. Unfortunately, still no perfect match.
My best friend, Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi Whitton, always willing to help, began a campaign of support. She has a much larger net of followers and she placed an article in her legislative newsletter featuring myself and two others in need. This too led to others volunteering. One was a 78-year-old Vietnam veteran. Another offer came from a young man from an African country who was willing to give me a kidney if I would sponsor him coming to the U.S.
My brother Phil, who is the administrator of a Jones Beach Facebook page, reached out through social media resulting in more positive results. One applicant wanted to know if I had enough time left for her to complete her pregnancy. Really unbelievable how giving some people are.
While this search continued a beautiful niece of mine was quietly going through the medical process. She has been found to be a perfect match and she will give her gift to me. She is my special angel. Transplant surgery is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 30. I am elated at the prospect of improved health. As it turns out her brother Philip also was willing as was a cousin of mine from upstate. Thank you all.
Now I realize that there is no guarantee for success. I’m just in awe of the processes. There are so many people involved in this, friends, neighbors, relatives and total strangers that I feel like crying. I’m just a regular guy and being witness to this has more than restored my faith in mankind.
I cannot complete this without stating how important my wife Kathy and daughter Nina have been. Their love has carried me even when I find myself slipping into despair. Additionally, I had the support of two friends who donated kidneys to needy recipients. Pete and Coleen showed me that it could be done. Thank you Ann Marie, Elizabeth, Chad, Debbie and Jack who showed themselves to be special friends.
I am so filled with emotion for the love and kind words of encouragement from so many. I know thank you is not enough.
My final praise is for my Higher Power. I don’t know what God has planned for my future but I do know I have faith in him leading the way. God bless and thank you to all.
- Tony Jimenez