A man who survived the World Trade Center bombing of 1993 and the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and was later in need of a kidney donor is now recovering with his family after having successfully undergone a transplant, Fox New has learned.
Francis “Frank” Savio learned just before 5 a.m. Friday that a new kidney had become available, and underwent transplant surgery in New York City that same day, his wife, Phyllis, told Fox News on Wednesday.
When they first got the call, Phyllis Savio told the person on the other end that she had to hang up and “needed five minutes” to collect her thoughts, she recalled when reached by phone on Tuesday morning.
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“[It] almost feels surreal that this is actually happening. You know, it’s something that you dream about happening,” she continued. “I truly thought I was dreaming that dream that I got this phone call.”
After some back-and-forth with coordinators, the Savios left their Monmouth County, New Jersey, home and made it to NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center around 10:30 a.m. local time.
“We got to the hospital around 10:30, and by 1 o’clock they took him for surgery,” she said. “I heard from them sometime after 8 o’clock that evening that he was stable throughout the surgery and that everything had gone well.”
Fox News previously reported how the Savios enlisted the help of the Flood Sisters Kidney Foundation at the end of June with the hope that the organization could bring more attention to their efforts.
The kidney that Frank Savio received ultimately was not the result of the foundation’s work to find a match. While the Flood Sisters Kidney Foundation received about 100 potential donor applications after the Fox story ran, Savio’s new kidney came from a 42-year-old who died after a “tragic accident,” said Jennifer Flood, who is co-founder and president of the foundation.
Savio, a 66-year-old married father of two, spent decades working inside the World Trade Center in New York City. He survived the bombing of 1993 and the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when he led someone with a visual impairment down the stairs to safety just minutes before the plane crashed into the south tower.
He worked as a frame technician for Verizon in the World Trade Center for more than 20 years before retiring in 2010.
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But in 2007, he learned his kidneys were declining, he told Fox News. In 2017, he was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and underwent daily, at-home dialysis for roughly three and a half years, during which time his condition deteriorated.
“Just that someone would be an organ donor is a wonderful, wonderful thing,” Phyllis Savio said. “I mean, since my husband became ill with kidney disease, I have become an organ donor because I realize how important that is.”
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Frank Savio, while still on the mend, was scheduled to be released from the hospital on Tuesday, but would be staying close with family in anticipation of upcoming doctor appointments, she said.
Following the news, Jennifer Flood said she would be reaching out to the potential donor applicants to see if they were interested in being candidates for future people in need.
“You can still help other people that we’re working with,” Flood told Fox News. “And that’s what I’m doing now – I’m using the donors that can’t help him … to help the others.”