'He came to my rescue': Cop meets NYPD colleague who donated kidney

Officer Thomas Alexander and Sgt. William Gaspari have more in common than just their profession

By Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — As an NYPD harbor cop, Officer Thomas Alexander knows a lot about life lines.

On Wednesday, he met his own.

During a special event at Police Headquarters, the 30-year NYPD veteran gleefully hugged NYPD Sgt. William Gaspari, who donated a kidney on his behalf — ensuring Alexander would get a desperately needed organ.

“[He] came to my rescue with a kidney, so that was fantastic,” Alexander said, patting Gaspari on the back. “I didn’t expect it.”

Through a pay-it-forward program with the National Kidney Registry and NYU Langone Hospital, Gaspari was able to donate a kidney in Alexander’s name.

“Tommy didn’t need a match, he just needed a donor. You just need someone to come and donate on your behalf,” said retired NYPD Detective Michael Lollo, the president of the National Kidney Donation Organization. “Sgt. Gaspari put a kidney into the pool, and Tommy got a kidney out of the pool.”

The lifesaving treatment ended three years of painful dialysis for Alexander, who needed the procedure for his failing kidney three days a week.

“Dialysis is difficult. It’s a necessary evil, but it’s just hard,” Alexander said. “But, fortunately, I don’t have to do it anymore.”

After getting a replacement kidney at the end of 2020, Alexander hasn’t needed dialysis for nearly a year, he said.

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “I’ve got my freedom back. Now I can come back to work here.”

[RELATED: Recovered addict donates kidney to cop who arrested her]

Gaspari’s kidney went to someone in Michigan, giving Alexander a voucher for the next available kidney that was a match.

“This has been building for awhile,” Gaspari said about meeting Alexander for the first time. “I’ve known him without ever meeting him. It was definitely a cascade of emotions there.”

Lollo, who donated a kidney to a stranger in 2018, said the donation voucher program through the National Kidney Registry can help people get lifesaving kidneys — people like NYPD Transit Officer Vadrien Alston. She received a kidney in 2010, but the organ is failing, leaving her desperate for a new one.

“This program is a lifesaver,” Alston said. “There’s thousands of us out there in need of a kidney that [are] going to get a second chance for life because of this.”

“I’m just praying that my transplant is coming more sooner than later,” she said.

In an effort to spread the word about the program, the NYPD will be holding a special donor day in designated precincts in each borough Dec. 16 so people can learn more about the program and sign up, NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes said.

More information about the program is available on the National Kidney Registry website.

©2021 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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