MANHASSET, NY -- This is one family that really knows how to celebrate Father’s Day.
Exactly two weeks ago, Leonard Burke, 32, of Richmond Hills, Queens, received the gift of life from his father, Ronald, in the form of a second transplanted kidney. During a press conference held at the North Shore University Hospital Transplant Center to showcase the Burke family’s courage and compassion, Leonard described his five-year battle with kidney disease.
It was back in 2008 that Leonard learned that his kidneys were failing due to hypertension. After undergoing two difficult years of dialysis, Leonard was shocked to learn that tests had revealed his wife, Rhonda, was, indeed, a perfect match. The pair is, as he described it, “a match made in heaven.”
The kidney transplant took place on March 29, 2010. The successful transplant was especially meaningful for the young couple because they were very eager to begin a family. With his health restored, Leonard and Rhonda became the proud parents of Isabel on Nov. 20, 2011, just a few days before Thanksgiving. Isabel, now a healthy 18-month-old toddler, was the center of attention as she sat in her mother’s lap during the press event.
But the family got the shocking news a few months ago that the transplanted kidney was failing and he would need another.
Ernesto Molmenti, MD, surgical director of the healthcare system’s transplant center, performed both transplants and called Leonard’s subsequent medical journey truly unique.
“This time, it was his father, Ronald, who stepped in and after all the tests were completed, agreed to donate a kidney to his son,” Dr. Molmenti said. “We have never heard of a man receiving a kidney first from his wife, then from his father. What a testimony to the close bonds shared by this family. This father gave his son the most precious gift of all. It’s a beautiful story.”
The transplant took place on June 3, and after a three-day stay at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, Leonard and his father returned to the family home they share in Queens, just in time to celebrate a very special Father’s Day.
For his part, Ronald Burke said that his entire family is looking forward to spending this Father’s Day at home celebrating their good health and fortune.
“I think I did what any loving father would have done,” said the elder Mr. Burke. “To see my son so healthy, with his beautiful family, is the best gift I could ever ask for. We are a very lucky family,” he said.
To view a video of today’s event, click here.