GOOD NEWS! Michael received a kidney from a living donor on July 2, 2013. Congratulations, Michael!
Let me tell you about my son Michael Amoroso (or Mike the Man as he likes to be called).
When my little bundle of joy was born 22 years ago, he weighed 5 lbs., 12 oz. At 10 months old, he was diagnosed with both nephronophthisis, a kidney disease in which cysts form on the kidneys, and Leber's Congenital Amaurosis, an extremely rare eye disease. Michael's doctors told us that one day he might need dialysis and eventually a new kidney. This was worrisome news, but I tried not to dwell on it.
Michael was born with a lot of spunk! He was so small but so loud. He wanted so much to do everything on his own without help. He started cruising around the house, holding onto walls, at about age 2. If he sensed my presence behind him, or if I put my hand on him so he would not fall, he would reach behind and push me away. He was an independent-minded little boy!
Michael loves radios and cars. He can name every DJ on every radio station in the New York area and is very good at identifying song names and artists. Even without sight, Michael has a preference for car colors and knows the makes and models of many automobiles.
When I asked him what he wanted to do for his 14th birthday, he said he wanted to go “see” the cars at a dealership. I called a nearby dealership, and they were very receptive to having Michael come and explore. I thought they would have him sit in a few cars, and he would be thrilled. To both Michael's and my surprise, they had planned a birthday party for him, complete with cake and balloons! The dealership had even contacted our local newspaper, the Staten Island Advance, which featured an article about Michael and the event.
My son has been through so much in his young life, but he continues to smile through it all. Now a young adult, he works in the community at various jobs arranged through a day-habilitation program. He hands out drinks at a soup kitchen, cleans shelves at Walgreens, vacuums carpets at a nearby church, and arranges and stacks merchandise at retail stores. Despite being blind, Michael is a very capable young man.
His compassion for others is immeasurable. If Michael knows my back hurts, he rubs it. When he knows I am sad, he tries to boost my mood. One of the things I treasure most about him is when he touches my hair and says, "Mom, you look beautiful!" I cannot imagine life without my precious son.
Michael's disease has progressed to the point that his kidneys are currently functioning at only 17% of normal capacity, and he needs a transplant. Because dialysis wreaks havoc on one's body, his doctors have recommend that he receive a transplant before dialysis becomes necessary. If a donor is not found by the time Michael's kidney function decreases to 10%, however, there will be no choice but for him to go on dialysis. Otherwise, he will not survive.
Michael has Type A blood, which means he can accept a kidney directly from someone with Type A or Type O blood. However, his transplant center participates in, paired donation, which would allow a person of any blood type to donate for Michael.
Michael is registered at the Recanti/Miller Transplantation Institute Center for Living Donation at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, New York City. However, a donor need not reside in the area to donate, and programs that cover transportation, lodging, meals, and car rental are available to donors who do not live nearby.
If you would like to be tested to see if you could be a donor for Michael, please contact Lisa Leberecht. You can reach her toll-free through the hospital at 1-800-637-4624, directly at 212-659-8024, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org You may also contact me, Dawn Amoroso, at email@example.com.
Thank you for taking the time to read Michael's story and for considering living donation. If you are unable to donate but would like to help, please share his story with others. Thank you!
The Amoroso family: Dawn, Alexa, John, Michael, and Johnny.