During the month of June, we heard from four amazing dads that live right here in Western New York. Each of them opened up about their stories of navigating transplantation and how that journey affected them as fathers. Two are living kidney donors, Matt Krist and Dan Tomczak, and two are recipient dads, Scott Fleetwood and Tim Day. Each of these men's lives have been affected by the organ donation and the Gift of Life.
Matt Krist - Father, Husband, Living Kidney Donor
Matt Krist donated a kidney to his son Tanner. Donating a kidney was never a decision that Matt had to make; it was something that he had to do, and being able to donate this gift is something both Matt and Tanner have cherished. Matt says that he couldn't be prouder of the person Tanner is today.
"Tanner has been such a humble kid ever since he was a little boy. I love hearing from other people how respectful and well-mannered Tanner carries himself," says Matt.
Scott Fleetwood - Father, Husband, Double Lung Transplant Recipient
Scott Fleetwood is a double lung transplant recipient. Scott was the 2,043rd person in nearly 30 years to get a lung transplant at University at Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). After his transplant, he had to be nurtured and cared for. He had to learn how to walk, talk, chew, eat, swallow, and drink, all over again. His wife and daughter were with him throughout his entire journey, including 167 days at the hospital.
Scott reflects on what fatherhood means to him. "The thing I most love about being a dad is when she calls me 'daddy.' I love being able to give her what she needs and wants. I’m so blessed to have my two girls in my life, both talented & beautiful my wife Debbie and my daughter Emily." says Scott.
Dan Tomczak - Father, Husband, Living Kidney Donor
Dan Tomczak donated his kidney to a stranger, Michael Stern back in 2000. He chose to donate his kidney so his wife Ellie could recieve a life-saving kidney transplant from another donor. Dan once worked operating huge construction vehicles, but at the age of 55 he retired to do a two-year course in nursing. Now he works two 12-hour shifts a week at a nearby hospital
We asked Dan, what fatherhood means to him. He said, "It is hard to believe that it has been 45 YEARS since becoming a father and the ride has been a wonderful one, made even better after the birth of our second daughter two years later. Watching Jenny and Laura, grow into dynamic, successful, beautiful women (with the qualities of their mother) has been most rewarding. Family times are cherished as we share cruise vacations, holidays and Sunday dinners making great memories. My heart swells with pride each and every time I see them. Life is indeed good!"
Tim Day - Father, Husband, Heart Transplant Recipient
Tim Day just celebrated four years with his new heart in May 2019 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. He is a father to three kids and a husband to his wife, Sherry. We asked Tim about his experience being a heart transplant recipient, this is what he had to say...
"For a while, I knew absolutely nothing about my donor and it was during that time that I realized that it could have been ANYONE. Someone gave me the Gift of Life without knowing my sex, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, economic status, level of education, political affiliation or whether or not I like pizza. Someone knew nothing about me and they saved my life. I accepted that gift in the same manner. I started looking at all different kinds of people and thinking that it could have been any one of their loved ones that saved my life." says Tim.