Dyker Heights leaders help man search for kidney donor

September 3, 2019 Paula Katinas
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Members of the Dyker Heights Civic Association have opened their hearts to a 27-year-old Manhattan lawyer in desperate need of a new kidney and are helping him in his frantic search for a donor.

Joseph Vitiello suffers from Dent’s Disease, a rare condition affecting the proximal renal tubules of the kidney. Dent’s Disease runs in families. “I’ve had it since I was three or four years old,” he told the Home Reporter in a recent interview.

Vitiello has coped with the ailment and its debilitating symptoms for many years but has now reached the point that he needs a kidney transplant. Family members and friends have been tested, but no one has proven to be a good match. A national kidney donor matching service is assisting him.

In the meantime, Vitiello has had fliers printed up with his story, along with his name, phone number and email, and has been posting them in various places in the hope that a potential donor will step forward and contact him. On the fliers, he wrote that the donor will not have to bear any of the medical expenses for the transplant.

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Poignantly, he also revealed on the flier that Dent’s Disease has left him tired and weak.

Vitiello’s father, a cardiologist in Brooklyn, has posted the fliers in local hospitals.

Fran Vella-Marrone, president of the Dyker Heights Civic Association, said one of her members heard about Vitiello’s plight and suggested that the organization help him by posting his fliers throughout the neighborhood.

Vella-Marrone readily agreed.

“One of the best things you can do in a situation like this is help get the word out,” she told the Home Reporter. “The idea is to let as many people as possible know about this.”

Vella-Marrone does not know Vitiello personally. But she said she is eager to see a happy ending.

“He needs a donor. I hope he gets one,” she said.

The Dyker Heights Civic Association was founded in the 1920s and its members work to improve the quality of life for neighborhood residents and merchants. The group, which meets once a month, also serves as a sounding board for residents’ complaints on everything from parking tickets to street noise.

Civic association members can perhaps sympathize with Vitiello’s plight because one of their leaders has had personal experience with kidney disease.

Jerry Kassar, a member of the organization’s executive board, is a kidney transplant recipient.

“I’m coming up on my two-year anniversary,” he said.

His successful transplant is an example of what can happen when someone decides to help another person, he said. “Whatever I can do to encourage a kidney donation, I will do,” he said.

Vitiello, a graduate of New York Law School, will have to undergo dialysis if he doesn’t receive a new kidney. Vitiello lives with his girlfriend and is helping to raise his two young nieces.

For more information, or to become a potential donor, email: [email protected].

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