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Thousands helping teacher in Upstate New York get kidney transplant

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Posted at 1:04 PM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 15:04:53-05

WEST SENECA, N.Y. — This is a story of Western New Yorkers answering a call for help with no hesitation. Mike Dalessandro of West Seneca needs a kidney. And in less than two weeks, his school and church community are on the way to saving his life.

“I would say I was paralyzed with gratitude. All I could do was pray for these people because it was just insane," said Mike Dalessandro.

Dalessandro is a father of three, a physics teacher at Williamsville East, a deacon at Queen of Heaven Parish, and a candidate for a kidney transplant.

“I’ve known my entire life, pretty much since adolescence that I’d need a kidney, but I didn’t know when," said Dalessandro.

He was born with polycystic kidney disease or PKD, a hereditary disease that affects 12 million people worldwide. Throughout the years, cysts have grown on Dalessandro's kidneys, slowly limiting their function.

"It was just a matter of the decline rate, it happened pretty quick for him, being only 45," said Debbie Dalessandro, Mike's wife.

He’s now in stage 4 renal failure. Dalessandro had to wait until his situation got worse to become eligible for a kidney transplant.
Giving him a small window between needing a kidney and really needing a kidney.

"So that’s where I am right now, I’m not exactly on my deathbed, but I do have plenty of symptoms," said Dalessandro.

So his wife Debbie posted about his situation on Facebook.

"And it really took off beyond our wildest imagination," said Dalessandro.

It's up to nearly 10,000 shares. There are hundreds of comments, with people from all over the country some saying they wish they could help and so many others offering to donate.

"To offer a kidney to somebody is just...I just can’t express the gratitude," said Dalessandro.

Now, it's time to wait for the call from doctors at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester—saying they found the right kidney. They've got a lot of options to choose from.

"We’re in the dark, we do not know how many have come forward or where they are in the process, but we do know it’s a substantial amount of people," said Dalessandro.

While it’s great news for Mike—they hope this experience can inspire others and raise awareness.

"You don’t have to wait 'til you hear about someone or know someone, you can contact the transplant center yourself and say, I’m interested in donating my kidney," said Debbie Dalessandro.

The Dalessandro’s say they’re feeling the love from all around the country. Mike says he’s hearing from old students and PKD survivors every day.

He credits his Williamsville East community with spreading the word and helping save his life.

This story was first reported by Taylor Epps at WKBW in Buffalo, New York.