'He saved my life.' Man saves older brother's life with kidney donation
Two Syosset brothers were recognized Wednesday after one saved the other's life.
Johnny Covelli says he has always been protective of his brother Tommy, who is seven years younger than him. Decades later, it would be Tommy Covelli who would take care of his older brother when he needed it most.
"The reason I'm here today is because of my brother," Johnny Covelli says. "He saved my life."
Johnny Covelli was born 34 years ago with congenital hydronephrosis, a kidney disease that causes a blockage in the urinary tract. In May 2022, he found out that his kidneys were failing.
"He shut the door, and he told me that he needed a kidney transplant, and I was shocked and scared," Tommy Covelli said.
When Tommy Covelli found out he was a match to be a donor, he didn't hesitate to help his big brother.
On Nov. 28, the lifesaving surgery took place at North Shore University Hospital.
"It was the scariest day of my life, but the most wonderful day also when they had that surgery," said Julie Covelli, the brothers' mother. "I feel very blessed now."
This was the second time the Covelli family has been lucky enough to have a family donor. In 1993, Johnny and Tommy Covelli's uncle Ralph donated his kidney to his brother, Pat.
The brothers say the experience has further strengthened their love for each other.
"It's a different bond. I have a part of his body inside of me and something that I have to honor and cherish and take care of for the rest of my life," Johnny Covelli says.