NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – It was a gift that transcended a Super Bowl rivalry.
Lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan Patricia Pizzimenti needed a kidney. For Christmas, her daughter-in-law, Amanda Pizzimenti, gave her the gift of a lifetime: an offer to donate her kidney.
Amanda wasn’t a match, but she was a match for Desmond Padilla, a father of 4 she had never met who was in desperate need of a kidney.
Instead, John Houlihan was a match for Patricia. The altruistic donor was a complete stranger… and a New England Patriots fan.
On March 8, both Amanda and John donated their kidneys, each giving the gift of life to people they had never met.
All 4 donors met for the first time Wednesday at Yale New Haven Hospital, where their transplants happened weeks ago. There, Patricia had a very special surprise for her donor: A shirt that read “I can’t believe I gave a kidney to an Eagles fan”
“Apparently my sense of humor transferred with my kidney,” Houlihan said, laughing, “and Patricia decided to remind me that the Patriots lost the Super Bowl.”
For Patricia, it’s hard to admit that, technically, a small part of her is now a Patriots fan. “Well, I’ll take Gronk,” she joked, “I don’t know about anyone else!”
There were plenty of laughs and tears for four lives that were changed forever.
“It means a lot for me and my family,” Padilla said, “I get to be around for them.” Before he met his donor Amanda today, he knew nothing about her or how she came to be his donor. When they met this afternoon, they shared a tearful embrace.
“I feel like if more people were educated on everything that comes with living donation, that more people might step forward and be a part of it,” Amanda said, “because it’s really a wonderful thing to do.”