Source: Steve Trevelise, NJ101.5FM Radio
It’s a story that movies are made out of.
On July 23, 2005, Rob Pisani, a Northern Hudson County fire captain and one of my best friends since childhood, was out on his boat on Long Beach Island, where a couple, Cynthia and John, and their son Darren were also boating. Darren jumped off the boat, injuring himself. Cynthia yelled out for help.
Rob describes, “So now John jumps into the water, trying to rescue his son. I realized what was going on and swam out there with every stroke saying to myself, ‘Please let me get there,’ and by the will of God, I was able to get there.”
After helping the exhausted John to a raft, Rob swam over to Darren. “I said to him, ‘Grab the raft,’ and he looked at me with this blank stare and said, ‘I can’t feel my arms or my legs.’
“I looked at his neck and it was all black and blue and I realized he had broken it. So I held onto him until a boat came with two police officers who jumped in, guns and all.” Once ashore, Darren was airlifted to a Philadelphia trauma center.
“Cynthia says to me, ‘I need to pay you back.’ I said, ‘You don’t need to pay me back anything. I’m just glad that I was there.'”
Rob has never looked for accolades as long as I’ve known him: “We’re firemen, that’s what we do. When people are in peril, this is what we do.”
On June 27, 2018, Rob, now 59 years old and, came to NJ101.5 Radio to talk about how he needed a transplant: He’d been diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease, and a genetic glitch among his relatives rendered them all ineligible to donate. Within minutes, calls started coming in with offers to help, and a story about him was posted on the station’s web site which was circulated on social media by firemen throughout the state.
Cynthia read Rob’s story, and she got herself tested.
On July 23, 2018, exactly 13 years later, Cynthia got the news that she is a match and will be able to donate a kidney to the man who saved her son’s life.
If all goes well, Rob will have Cynthia’s kidney by early October. I asked Rob who would play him in the movie — and we both said together, “Danny DeVito.”
Remember to check the organ donor box on your drivers license, and if you get to chance to save a life by donating while you’re still alive, take advantage of it — you’ll be glad you did.
As for Darren, he’s using a wheelchair — but he has finished college, works in the family’s physical therapy business, and recently got married.
Editor’s note: So much for thirteen being an unlucky number.