NAPLES, Fla. — Many fathers can attest to it- there is often a special bond shared between a father and his daughter.
One daughter's sacrifice is the reason her father is alive in Naples today.
“If I can just convince one person to just step up and, if they have any problems, to have them checked out because for years I denied the fact that I had it.”
For Vincent Farengo, life is all about living the fullest. But for years, Vincent had an experience that would follow him throughout his life.
“I was going to work one day and I was on the highway and all of a sudden, I get such a sharp pain I couldn’t function," he says. "I pulled over and, I don’t know how, but I made my way home again and I got in the house and maybe after a half hour or 45 minutes it just stopped. I was back to normal again and I said what the heck is going on here?”
That problem would be kidney stones. At one point they became so bad for Vincent he needed surgery, having seven of them removed. But no matter the amount of treatment, they kept coming back. Until…
"At that point in time, there was nothing they could do for me other than telling me you can get a transplant.”
“He had sent me some paperwork and basically asked if I could ask a friend what does this mean?" said Dana Farengo-Clark, Vincent’s daughter. "And it basically said that his kidneys had about 20-25% function left and my friend, who is a kidney doctor, said to me your dad is in end stage kidney disease. That’s when it sort of hit us, or at least hit me, that this was something very, very real.”
That’s when Vincent’s middle daughter, Dana, came in the picture. She works at Penn University and together, with her mom and dad, they had a meet-and-greet with the transplant team.
"What we found out is, unfortunately, at his age- by the time he would need a kidney and actually be eligible to get one from a deceased donor list, he would be too old," said Dana.
Meaning Vincent needed a living donor.
"He immediately said no, no," says Dana. "My mom and I kind of looked at each other and we said, ‘Well we would consider it.’ I said to him just let me get tested and he was very opposed to it from that day one and that was December."
"All she saw was this is a possibility," says Vincent. "You can’t put it aside. It’s a real possibility and it’s probably the only one at this point in time that you have.”
But despite Dana’s persistence, Vincent had his qualms about the idea of his daughter being his donor.
"She’s a young person, she’s a mother, she’s a wife. And I kept saying to myself but what if something happens? Even if it’s a 1% chance? 1% isn’t zero. What if something happens? I can’t live with the idea that I could hurt her.”
Dana’s persistence would soon pay off…
"She said to me, ‘Dad- over 40 years ago you gave me life and this is my chance to give it back to you and you have to do this. And if you don’t do it, I will forever be mad at you and I will not accept what you’re doing.’”
"And I just said to him, ‘You have to do this. I’m ready, I am able. The world is a better place with you in it and we just need you here,’" said Dana. "I will still say, a little bit begrudgingly, I actually flew down there and we sat in the kitchen and my dad said, ‘I am now willing to accept this gift.’ And it was the best day of my life.”
After hours of operating, Dana’s kidney transplant for her father was a success. Even bringing immediate results for her father.
“I used to look at myself in the mirror and when I saw the color I was, I didn’t even know it was me," Vincent said. "The next morning I was so pink and rosy, that to me- forget a miracle. It was like I don’t even know what to call it. It was like a major, major miracle!”
And in the five year’s since that transplant, Vincent and Dana have been living their lives to the fullest.
“I have had no issues post donation," Dana says. "So I’ve been very lucky and he’s been very lucky as well.”
"If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here and, to me, that’s what a guardian angel does," says Vincent. "They watch over you, they try and guide you to do the right thing.”