For three years, Police Officer Tommy Alexander lived life on the terms of others. Due to a failing kidney, he was forced to check in for weekly dialysis all the while glancing at the clock in hopes time would allow for a kidney donation.
As the months and years passed, hope for Alexander looked to be running out with the ticking clock.
However, when Sergeant William Gaspari discovered through an NYPD service video that Alexander was still awaiting a life-saving transplant, he did what New York’s finest does best and stepped into action.
Although Gaspari wasn’t a match himself, with the help of the National Kidney Registry, on Nov.16, 2020, he made a kidney donation on Alexander’s behalf. With this gift saving another’s life, Gaspari was awarded a voucher, which he then presented to Alexander who could receive a kidney himself thanks to his peer’s donation.
Despite the two officers sharing a remarkable bond, the pair had never met. However, the perfect opportunity arose on Dec. 8, during a press conference inside police headquarters, which encouraged the public to participate in living donations in order to save a life. The two men came face to face for the very first time. Becoming emotional, they beamed with joy as they embraced one another, even shedding tears.
“I’m happy that I get to meet you after so long. I kept on reaching out to people like how’s he doing? Once I heard everything went well, well I’ve been dying to meet you. I’m extremely happy,” Gaspari said to which Alexander responded, “Well you’ve got a friend now!”
Spending years on an organ transplant waiting list is not an uncommon story in New York City.
Michael Lollo, President of the National Kidney Donation Organization, is also a retired NYPD detective, and during his tenure he donated a kidney to a stranger. Since then, Lollo has become a strong advocate of living donors, working to spread awareness and educate others on the lives affected regarding organ donations.
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), 97,957 individuals in the United States are waiting for a kidney donation, and 7,341 reside in New York. One by one, Lollo introduced civilians and officers who have either donated a kidney or received the lifesaving gift. Officer Vadrien Alston was in attendance, and she is still in dire need of a kidney.
“And I’m so glad that we’ve partnered up with Vadrien to help her find a voucher donor, just like such Gaspari was to Tommy. So just to give you a little bit of background about Vadrien; she’s been with the police department for 16 years. She’s a mom of Anthony who’s 23 and Ava, who’s seven. Currently, she’s in stage four renal failure. She appreciates life and she also loves traveling. So, what I’m asking for all of you who are watching this, reading this or seeing this is to share her story,” Lollo said.
While it was a momentous occasion for both Alexander and Gaspari to meet, it was also an opportunity for Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes to announce that on Dec. 16 the NYPD will partner with the National Kidney Donation organization and all eight patrol boroughs in order spread awareness and help individuals sign up for living kidney donations.
“Members of the NYPD never cease to amaze me, you know with their generosity and the sacrifice, which is exhibited here today. And William and Tommy I’m quite sure you’ll have a long-standing relationship after today. So, but I just like to mention in my 34 years, I’ve never seen anything like this where I’m standing up here with two members of this department that actually now share literally parts of one another. And it’s a unique bond,” Chief Holmes said proudly.
Kidney donation sign-up at local precincts is open to the public and more information about Officer Vadrien can be found at https://www.kidney4vadrien.org