Coronavirus News: NJ man pleads for kidney transplant after donor changes mind

FRANKLIN LAKES, New Jersey -- A man from New Jersey who was set to receive a kidney transplant is pleading for help after his donor had a change of heart due to COVID-19 concerns.

Thomas Minardi says he only has about 7% kidney function right now, and he is praying for a miracle.

"Come through here and help me out here," he said. "That's my prayer. I say it every night."

The married father of three says he is running out of time, and if he doesn't find a kidney donor very soon, he will die.

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"I worked hard my entire life," he said. "I never get tired, have lots of energy. I could do the work of three men, but now, by 10:30, I'm out of gas."

He has a big personality and is the man behind Mama Minardi Cookies, an Italian bakery his grandfather opened in 1927.

But from his home in Franklin Lakes, the 59-year-old is now focused on staying upbeat after getting devastating news.

"My jaw dropped, couldn't believe it," he said. "I called my wife."

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Earlier this year, doctors did find a match, and surgery was scheduled for right after Easter. But when COVID-19 hit, everything was put on hold because it was considered elective surgery.

"I thought, OK, I could last another month or two," he said. "Because I thought for sure it was going to come. When you have a little hope there, you're holding onto it."

Surgery was rescheduled for early July, but then came another blow -- The donor changed their mind, feeling that because of the circumstances in the world right now, they couldn't go through with it.

"I had to get this catheter put in ASAP so I can start some home dialysis," he said. "Can't get to much lower than 7%. That's not a lot of percentage."

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Now, he spends most of his time trying to buy just a little more time.

"Keep my fingers crossed," he said. "Hoping someone will see this and come through with a kidney for me so I can go full speed ahead again."

Anyone who wants to find out if they are a match can contact:

Kathleen Murdock, Living Donor Coordinator at Hackensack Meridian Health, at 551-996-4453 or Sara-Marie Castellvi, Recipient Transplant Coordinator at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, at 973-322-2143.

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