NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Doctors say Mets great Ed Kranepool is doing excellent after a successful kidney transplant, an operation that wouldn’t have been possible if not for a donor chain.
He has a huge smile and it was a long time in the making. Kranepool, 74, had been searching for a replacement kidney for two years. Last month, out of the blue, he got the call.
“It was a long two years, but obviously it came through,” Kranepool told CBS2’s Steve Overmyer on Friday. “That’s the one thing you never know. It could’ve been the end of the line. You could’ve been making your own last speech. So it’s really amazing.”
It happened because Port Authority Police Officer Brian Cooney unselfishly offered his kidney. But it didn’t go to Kranepool. It went to Al Barbieri. Al’s wife, Debbie, promised to donate her kidney if he ever got one. Her kidney went to Mr. Met.
When told that she is now literally part of Kranepool, Debbie said, “Yeah, I know!”
“And she doesn’t have an athletic bone in her body,” Al said.
“Not at all, but they said I had a really nice kidney, so I’m glad he got it,” Debbie added.
Kranepool was a 17-year-old phenom from the Bronx when he joined the Mets at the birth of the franchise. He played all 18 of his major league seasons in Queens, including with the “Miracle” Mets of 1969.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, there are more than 100,000 people waiting on a kidney. Of those, 80 percent wont get one.
“Every time we do a kidney transplant from a living donor, that means somebody else may get a kidney because we take these two people off the list,” said Dr. Frank Darras of Stony Brook University Hospital.
New York has the lowest percentage of organ donors in the nation, but in this case two lives were saved.
“There are a lot of people out there that need help. I’m hoping by hearing these stories — a cop and a firefighter and a famous guy like Ed — I’m hoping that other people will step up and give people the help they need,” Cooney said.
“That’s what’s so great about this country. People are willing to help one another and that’s the important thing,” Kranepool added.
All because one officer decided to serve and protect … and give.
Kranepool is expected to go home on Saturday and be at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Miracle Mets at Citi Field at the end of June.