Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘I’m hoping that I’ll get that lifesaving call to come in and get a kidney.’

Dix Hills

“I was born in Huntington and lived most of my life there. I’m fortunate enough to work as a citizen advocate in the town where I grew up. In November, I started feeling sick. I thought maybe it had to do with stress. Shortly after, I had a terrible nosebleed and started noticing when I would go to bed, I couldn’t lie sleeping on my back. I couldn’t breathe. And as that progressed, my legs started swelling up.

“My coworkers saw me at Town Hall and said, ‘Jonas, you don’t look right. You really need to be checked out.’ So, I finally had blood work done and I got a phone call saying the doctor has my results to go over. I asked him when I should come in and he said, ‘Now.’

I’m going to dialysis three times a week, and that’s keeping me alive.

“I went right to the doctor; he sat me down and said I have one hour to get to the hospital. They had a whole team of doctors come by. It was very overwhelming. My kidney levels were not normal. They did an emergency procedure to put a catheter in my jugular, and they started dialysis right away. I eventually had a biopsy of my kidney which showed that I have FSGS [focal segmental glomerulosclerosis], a rare type of kidney disease. It makes the kidneys deteriorate very rapidly. They said I need to get listed for a kidney transplant.

“A friend of ours recommended going to this organization called Renewal. Their whole mission is to help people like me find a living kidney donor. It’s a simple program. They take samples of a cheek swab and send it to a lab that looks at your blood type and antigens. They’re trying to get someone who’s the best match. You can do it from home. Renewal mails a swab kit and envelope to everybody who wants to donate. It takes five minutes, and you never know, you could be the person who saves a life.

“So, we’re still waiting. My wife’s here with me today and I have a 14-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter, and I want to be here to help support them and see them grow up. My daughter had a father-daughter dance, and I couldn’t go. I’m going to dialysis three times a week, and that’s keeping me alive. It’s hard. I’m just hoping, relatively soon, we’ll hear some good news, and I’ll get that lifesaving call to come in and get a kidney.”

To learn more about kidney donation or to see if you’re a match, please contact Renewal at 718-431-9831, ext. 209 or email R25727@renewal.org.

Interviewed by Jay Max