Above and beyond in public service: Middletown Mayor donates kidney to local mother

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Warning: Images in the video of surgery may be too graphic for some viewers.

MIDDLETOWN -- It could be considered the ultimate act of public service.

Middletown’s mayor donated his kidney to a constituent in need, longtime resident Olivia DiMauro.

A hair stylist for 27 years, this wife and mother of two found herself slowing down as a hereditary kidney disease began to grab hold.

“You start to lose your energy, you start to decline,” DiMauro recalled. “You don't have as much energy to do certain things.”

It left her with a difficult decision: prepare for a life on dialysis or try to get a new kidney.

Encouraged by her doctors, DiMauro chose a transplant. “I've seen the effects dialysis has had on family members. It kind of made me decide,” said DiMauro.

She decided to go on the donor wait list at Yale New Haven Hospital, hoping for her perfect match. She also made her story public, in hopes of finding a donor.

Two years went by, before the phone call she’d been waiting for came: DiMauro had a donor.

“The weight was just lifted,” said DiMauro. “I felt extreme relief.”

Curiosity set in when she was told to go to Middletown City Hall, where she was led into a room in which the mayor of Middletown, Daniel Drew, was sitting.

“I'm like, 'are they going to do this in front of the mayor?' They see I'm very puzzled and finally he just went, 'oh I'm your donor!'”

Mayor Drew said an article about DiMauro's search for a donor caught his eye one morning while he was reading the paper.

“I decided to get tested,” Drew said. “She's got kids not much older than mine and if I have the capacity to help someone who needed it, why not?”

So, mayor and constituent went under the knife in the care of two transplant surgeons and their teams at the Yale New Haven Transplantation Center.

The donor surgery was performed by Dr. Sanjay Kulkarni, the surgical director for kidney and pancreas transplantation at the center.

“It's actually a very emotional job,” Kulkarni said before the surgery. “You're dealing with people who are perfectly healthy, undergoing an operation to help somebody else.”

After Drew’s kidney was removed it was passed to Dr. David Mulligan, director of the Transplantation Center, who had DiMauro prepared in the other room. “Transplantation is really the ultimate team sport,” he said.

“it's an extreme honor,” Dr. Mulligan explained. “I feel so privileged to be a part of the team that can actually do these surgical techniques that can actually make someone's life so much better.”

Both surgeries went well, and two weeks later, DiMauro is up and moving.

“I definitely have more energy,” DiMauro exclaimed. “I could feel it changing immediately almost afterwards.”

“I'm just thrilled she's doing well,” said Mayor Drew, also up and moving around after his surgery. “I’d do it over again a thousand times if I could,” he said.

Misconceptions about organ donation while still alive

The surgeons told FOX 61 there is a lot of misinformation out there about living organ donations.

Dr. Kulkarni says the operation has really advanced in the last decade, with less invasive techniques and says it’s safe for both the donor and constituent.

Mayor Drew, like any living donor, underwent extensive physical tests as well as a mental health evaluation to make sure his body could live with just one kidney.

As for the cost of the surgery, the recipient’s insurance pays for the entire procedure and any care associated afterward. Mayor Drew did not pay for his care during or after surgery.

For more information on how you can become a living organ donor, click here for the Yale New Haven Hospital Transplantation Center.