Kidney recipient organizes charity softball tournament
Andy Padrezas of Jenkins Township only had to hear Alan Lapidus - a passing acquaintance - speak once living with kidney disease before making the decision that would alter both their lives.
Lapidus had been coping with the news he was in kidney failure in early 2009. But just a few months later, Padrezas' offer to donate a kidney resulted in a new lease on life, inspiration to help others and an "adoptive brother" for Lapidus.
"He's definitely a member of my family now, how could he not be? The guy should have nothing but good luck for the rest of his life," said Lapidus, of Harveys Lake.
The life-changing experience motivated Lapidus to organize a charity softball tournament on Saturday to benefit the Gift of Life Foundation, which raises awareness about the need for organ donations.
Padrezas and Lapidus had only a nodding acquaintance - that is, until Padrezas heard the Harveys Lake resident relating his struggle with kidney disease in May 2009. A former nurse, Padrezas knew the hell that dialysis patients go through when facing kidney failure.
"He said, 'I want to give you a kidney,'" Lapidus recalled.
For Padrezas, not making that offer wasn't an option. Entertaining what might happen if he didn't was enough to prompt him to step up and do what he could to save Lapidus from years of dialysis.
"(I thought) You know what, why not? What do I have to lose? I don't do what-if's in my life anymore. I just don't," he said.
A month later, Padrezas called Lapidus with the good news that their blood types were a match. After more tests, and the welcome news that they were compatible, the successful transplant took place in December 2009.
These days, the now 40-year-old Lapidus has found himself "rejuvenated," a different person than he was a year ago. Both men believe it was fate that brought them together that day, a chance meeting when neither expected to be in the same place that day.
"Things just don't happen by chance or coincidence, that's what I believe," Padrezas said. "Things happened for a reason."
The tournament begins at 9 a.m. at the Kingston Recreation Center on Third Avenue. Raffle tickets will be sold for the chance to win various prize baskets. The Coffee Table Cafe will offer food for sale, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to Gift of Life.
"It will be a fun day of softball, very competitive," Lapidus said.