MASTIC BEACH, NY (CBSNewYork) – A true spirit of giving is on display on Long Island.
“It’s going to save my life,” said Artie Surrey.
He’s been living on borrowed time.
“I have a disease called polycistic kidney disease. It’s where cysts grow on your kidneys and overtake your kidneys and they stop functioning,” Artie Surrey told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
The disease requires Artie to get three hours and 45 minutes of dialysis three times a week. He was facing dim prospects of a happy family future with his wife Amy and five children, due to his failing kidneys.
That is, until a holiday angel swooped in.
“With the world lacking in humanity and human kindness, for us to be able to show our children this is what people can do for each other,” Kristine Gawlowski said.
Gawlowski, a mother of four, recently overcame her own medical challenges.
“Two brain tumors. Seven reconstructive surgeries. Eleven months with a feeding tube,” she explained. She even lost her family home in Superstorm Sandy.
But she saw a post from her coworker Amy on the William Floyd School District website.
“I needed a kidney, went up to my wife and was willing to get tested. It just shows this community is a very tight community,” Artie said. The fire lieutenant went through a fruitless nationwide year of searching and testing, and there was no match until now, from the very same school community.
“It’s amazing that I am a match and that I do live so close to him,” Kristine said. “It rarely happens. It’s a national list that you’re on. So the fact that we’re in the same community, the same school district: It’s fate, definitely.”
“Makes me very choked up inside. There’s no words, really no words,” Artie said.
“I’m happy for my mom. Others saved her life a lot of times, now she will save another life,” said Kristine’s 10-year-old sold GJ. “Nervous about this, don’t want anything really to go wrong.”
“Now Artie’s spot on the national list is opening up for someone else who doesn’t have a live donor,” Kristine said. “Something about it just called to me… Maybe I survived to help him survive.”
“She is my hero,” Artie said.
Word of Gawlowski’s selfless act is inspiring the entire school district, McLogan reported.
The surgery will take place this coming Tuesday at Stony Brook University Hospital.