“Finally,” the tears flowed as Don Pritchard and Christine Sicignano embraced — sealing a friendship for a lifetime.

Family members were close by, struggling to keep their emotions in check.   

“I’ve been waiting for this day for about a week and a half,” said Don, a Marine veteran, paramedic and a 9/11 responder, needed a life-saving kidney.

“When Jocelyn interviewed me at the house, my concern was not being to grow old with her or be there for my daughter.  And you’ve given that to me and I’m thankful for that,” he said to Christine, a mom of four connecting after watching Don’s story on News 8 which aired on Veterans Day

“It came across my newsfeed,” said Christine. “Oh geez, this is somebody right here in Guilford, I wonder if I know him.”

It turned out that their children attend the same high school.

Christine said, “He’s a veteran, he’s a first responder. He was there on one of the most horrible days of our American history. And it just reached out to me, ‘you know what, he’s done so much, the least I can do is to help so that he can continue being the awesome guy that he is.'” 

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Both recipient and donor are recovering well less than two weeks after surgery. 

“You know, it’s funny,”  said Don. “Your body is probably adjusting running on one kidney, yet my body is saying ‘yeah, I got a kidney, let’s go.'” 

“No donors, no transplants,” says Transplant Surgeon Dr. Peter Yoo.

He and the team at Yale New Haven Hospital joined the celebration.   

Dr. Yoo said, “The case went just as well as we know how to do it.”  

It’s a cherished gift for which Don is ready to reciprocate, but not quite sure how.                      

Don explained, “It’s not like she let me borrow a lawnmower to cut my lawn. There’s a part of her in me.”

“I don’t think there was a point of time where I had to be convinced to do it.  It was just this something I needed to do. We have kids the same age and I would hope that somebody could do something like that for me if roles were reversed,” she said.

Christine received support from the non-profit group Kid U Not, which provides financial assistance for donors. 

Don is expected to fully recover in six months.      

April is Donate Life Month, the time of year when we pay special attention to the idea that without donors, there are no transplants, Dr. Yoo said.