An NYPD officer who received a kidney transplant has finally met a fellow colleague whose donation made the transplant possible, showing that the bond between law enforcement members is as strong as family.
Officer Tommy Alexander with the NYPD Harbor Unit was in desperate need of a transplant over a year ago. He was receiving dialysis for four hours at a time up to three times a week when a fellow NYPD officer decided to help out.
After meeting with and hugging donor and fellow NYPD officer Sgt. William Gaspari for the first time, he said:
“It’s fantastic, I’ve met a family member now, so it’s good.”
Gaspari said he felt a “cascade of emotions” during the meeting.
Gaspari first heard about Alexanders’ story circulating within the department, and decided to volunteer to donate, not knowing for sure whether he would be chosen.
“I figured I’d be one of many who signing up, turned out I was one of one,” Gaspari said.
According to ABC 7, Gaspari donated in Alexander’s name through a voucher program with the National Kidney Registry, so that his kidney was already in the system at the time of the transplant.
“Tommy didn’t need a match, he just needed a donor. You just need someone to come and donate on your behalf,” retired NYPD Detective and president of the National Kidney Donation Organization Michael Lollo explained. “Sgt. Gaspari put a kidney into the pool, and Tommy got a kidney out of the pool.”
This ensured that Alexander would be able to receive a compatible kidney on the list, while at the same time allowing another person in need of a kidney to receive Gaspari’s.
On Dec. 30, 2020, doctors successfully performed the long-awaited transplant.
Alexander and Gaspari’s story has given hope to another NYPD officer – transit officer Vadrien Alston – who is in stage 4 renal failure and desperately needs a kidney.
“I’m more or less determined the kidney is going to come,” Alston said. “It would mean the world to me…it would give me a second chance at living life.”
Alston received a kidney in 2010, but the organ is failing.
“This program is a lifesaver,” Alston said. “There’s thousands of us out there in need of a kidney that [are] going to get a second chance for life because of this.”
With the new lease on life, Alexander is planning to travel with his daughter.
“Every place I go, I’ll take her with me, she’s going to tag along,” he said.
NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes said that the department will be holding a special donor day to spread the word about the program and offer a chance to sign up.