On this Father's Day, it is perhaps the best gift anyone could ever receive the gift of life. An Irondequoit man has been given a new lease on life, thanks to someone whom he never met. As YNN's Mary McCombs and photojournalist Helen Moore tell us, the two now share a special bond!
Greg Raggi spent 20 years as a Rochester police officer. He retired in 1993. Two years later, he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Raggi said, "It was my lifestyle. It was eating out every night, late hours and not sleeping a lot."
Raggis' condition worsened following a stroke. He was born with one kidney, which was no longer functioning. That's when his doctor made a suggestion.
"He kept monitoring my level, my kidney levels, and he asked me if I would ever consider a transplant and I said well sure," said Raggi
In 2006, Raggi was placed on a donor list.
Raggi said, "You're sitting there thinking, and you're waiting and waiting, and it just, ya know, doesn't happen. You figure what you're doing now is just the end of it for you."
Greg Raggi was told by doctors it would take anywhere from four to five years to find a kidney donor. But in March of 2010, his life changed when he got word that someone heard about his story, stepped forward, and became a match.
Peter Ball of Auburn learned about Greg Raggi's situation through facebook.
Ball said, "I saw it, my wife saw it, and about three days later, God had just been working on me and saying, I want you to donate your kidney."
Raggi said, "Boy he is selfless. When you figure what it takes to ask a person for a kidney, well you're a true modern day hero."
This would not be an easy medical journey for both the donor and the recipient, as the process hit a few roadblocks .
Raggi said, "We heard that he got rejected for a reason, but the kid never gave up. He came back, he argued. I get emotional, but a, quite a guy."
Ball said, "I just really believed that God wanted me to do it, so I just kept pushing and pushing and pushing, until things worked out."
Peter's patience, persistence and prayer paid off. After two years of extensive testing, on March 25th of this year, the transplant surgery took place at Strong Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Carlos Marroquin said, "The neat thing about it is, by the time you're done with that transplant, Greg Raggi in this case, is making urine. And it's the most phenomenal thing in the world."
Both men sometimes cross paths at Strong where they continue to be monitored. Doctors say Peter will live a productive life, with one kidney.
Dr. Marroquin said, "His lifespan and lifestyle should be unchanged. For Greg, you can't even begin to really describe how much improved his life will be."
"His durability is gonna be phenomenal, he will live much longer, that kidney will last much longer and without a doubt, his quality will be better," said Dr. Marroquin.
Greg is on the road to a full recovery and hoping to enjoy life more.
Raggi said, "I just want to live life, do some things I couldn't do before."
Doctors say millions of people stand to benefit from a selfless act, such as Peter's.
Raggi said, "I did it because of my relationship with God and with Jesus. Jesus died for us. He gave his whole life for us. So if you ask me to give up my kidney, what is that in relation to what he did to me, did for me."
"It makes me feel wonderful his life is improving and we're kind of just like part of the family now."
"You can't say enough, he's my hero."
Mary McCombs, YNN.
If you would like to learn more about organ donation, you can call the Kidney Transplant Program at Strong Memorial Hospital. The number is 585-275-7753.
And to find out more about signing up on the New York State Registry