More than a month after the originally scheduled date, two North Branford residents will be heading into surgery today as Jeff DelGaudio will donate part of his liver to fellow North Branford resident .
The surgery was originally planned for June 20 but postponed due to complications. After waiting out the end of June and most of July, the pair will finally undergo the surgery today.
Joe has been dealing with liver failure for some time and has gotten worse over the past year, requiring a transplant. His wife, Ida, had posted a plea for donors on Facebook and news began to spread.
“[My wife] Sherry called to try to become a donor but didn’t meet some of the requirements,” said Jeff. “Because I had O-negative blood, was in good physical condition and healthy, I called and went through pre-screening and then a second level of screening.”
The DelGaudio’s and Sansone’s are not strangers as their daughters, Carissa DelGaudio and Krista Sansone, are best friends.
“Especially knowing Krista, it made me think how I would feel for my child to be without a father,” said Jeff. “If doing this could help him extend his life and be at her high school graduation, her wedding and so on, then it is worth it.”
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“It’s been a long wait, a real long wait,” said Joe, prior to the originally scheduled surgery. “Jeff pulled through and gave me a new outlook on things and now I feel like I have a chance.”
Jeff’s act is not lost upon his family. His wife, Sherry, works in the so she will be home to help care for him in the coming weeks and his daughters, and Carissa, are “very comfortable with what I’m doing,” he said, “especially Carissa, who said she’s happy to have me as her hero.”
His family members aren’t the only people who are behind him and ready to support him after the surgery, which will require a week of recovery in the hospital and then weeks of recovery at home. Jeff said his boss has been very understanding and he is amazed at the support from the North Branford community.
Sherry’s best friend, , where friends can sign up to bring a meal to the DelGaudio’s during Jeff’s recovery.
“Sherry said there’s already a week’s worth of meals coming with more people signing up every day,” said Jeff. “It’ great to know people are standing behind up and looking to help.”
While Jeff will be in the hospital for about a week, Joe has a longer recovery time ahead of him as his recovery plans include about two weeks in the intensive care unit before moving to a regular floor to regain some strength.
“I’m just looking forward to going home to see my family,” said Joe. “I can’t wait.”
Jeff does admit that he never could’ve imagined that he would one day be a living donor as “the most I’ve ever done was donate blood,” but after his recovery, he plans to help spread awareness about organ donation. He spoke highly of the transplant center at Yale-New Haven Hospital, including leader Dr. Sukru Emre.
“Whether it’s being a living donor or checking the box for your driver’s license, it can help save a life,” said Jeff.