NEW HAVEN - Imagine your best friend dies while serving his country and 17 years later, you have the opportunity to save his mother's life. That's the scenario that played out for Jason Gaddy.
“We stayed so close to the family that it just was really a no-brainer,” said Gaddy.
Domenica Leto, of New Milford, received some startling news in March of 2015.
“I announced it on Facebook that I needed a kidney,” she said Friday afternoon during a ceremony to mark the 1,000th living donor kidney transplant at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Gaddy, who remained close with the Leto family after Joe was killed in the line of duty in 1999, learned he was a match for Mrs. Leto, to whom he delivered the good news.
“He just said it as if it was a walk in the park, instead of this miracle that he gave me,” said Leto.
Gaddy said he feels incredibly fortunate to know he is now one with Mrs Leto.
“They're not getting rid of me now,” said a smiling Gaddy. “I think they're at least going to invite me over to dinner now. There's no kicking me out.”
The transplant was executed on May 10, which is a prominent date for Mrs. Leto.
“After my son was born, I had a kidney infection. Thirty-five years to the day later, I got my new kidney,” she said.
Gaddy says one typically does not have an opportunity to have an impact on somebody's life very often.
The one year survival rate for a recipient of a kidney from a living donor is over 98 percent, according to Dr. David Mulligan, who heads up the YNHH Transplantation Center.
Even five years out, Mulligan says approximately 85 percent are still healthy.