Philadelphia kidney transplant recipient meets donor for first time at Phillies game

Briana Smith Image
Friday, April 12, 2024
Kidney transplant recipient meets donor for 1st time at Phillies game
Philadelphia kidney transplant recipient meets donor for first time at Phillies game

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It was an emotional night at Citizens Bank Park, but it had nothing to do with the Phillies game.

Instead, an organ donor and recipient officially met before throwing out Thursday night's first pitch.

"Thank you so much," said Joe DeMayo, of Northeast Philadelphia. "I think I could never say it enough. It's changed everything."

A surreal embrace at Citizens Bank Park for these strangers who are now connected forever after their recent transplant surgery at Temple University Hospital.

"It's crazy to think that something that was killing me almost could save somebody else," said MaryBeth Foster, of Crofton, Maryland. "So when we found out I could heal someone, I didn't take a step back."

Foster said she was diagnosed with nutcracker syndrome, which is a rare vein compression disorder requiring her to remove her kidney in January.

At the same time, she gave DeMayo a second chance at life by becoming a donor.

He needed a second kidney transplant after suffering from acute kidney injury.

"It's such a blessing," said DeMayo. "Just being able to play with my son in the backyard."

"I think it's awesome that there's a piece of me that's walking around," said Foster. "You're living. We're able to be with our kids; it literally is the little things you take for granted."

According to the nonprofit Donate Life America, in 2023, nearly 7,000 lives were saved through the generosity of living donors.

Foster and DeMayo finally met at the Phillies game to throw the first pitch together on April 11, which is National Living Donor Day.

"The power of living organ donation. We're at a baseball game - it's the ultimate double play," said David Galvenski who is the Living Liver Foundation co-founder and organ recipient. "Not only do they save the life of the individual they donated to, it frees up another organ to save someone waiting for that deceased organ."

They hope others decide to become what they consider "angels on Earth."

"There's so many people out there that are suffering, and I suffered for so long and I can't imagine someone waiting for their healing," said Foster.

"I look at her [Foster], my dad, my wife, anyone who donates is a hero because you're literally saving a life," said DeMayo.