Punching tickets is a passion of 15-year-old Tyler Gomez and something he hasn’t been able to do for much of his youth.
Selden had the teen constantly monitored and kept on various medications to heal his functioning kidneys. He was often tired, and sometimes his frame became weak.
That changed after Tyler received a kidney transplant in 2021 from a living donor, his father Salvatore. Now, the teen is a member of his school’s junior varsity baseball team.
“It’s pretty cool,” Tyler said of his father’s gift of life. “I have a part of him inside me for the rest of my life.”
WHAT TO KNOW
- Tyler Gomez, a Selden teen who needed a kidney transplant, received one from his father and is now healthy enough to play junior varsity baseball.
- His history and surgical transplant The new Netflix documentary “Emergency NYC” focuses on the work of doctors, nurses and EMTs.
- The hope of the Gomez family By sharing the story, more people will consider organ donation.
Tyler’s difficult journey to reconnect with a blood clot scare and another transplant surgery at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park is one of the stories included in the new Netflix documentary series, “Emergency NYC.” airing this week.
The show follows the daily work and challenges of doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians and other frontline medical professionals at several hospitals in New York City and on Long Island. Several stories follow throughout the episodes, including Tyler’s family.
His parents, Jill and Sal Gomez, said they hope that by sharing their story, they can help other families who have to undergo transplant surgery, highlighting the importance of organ donation. As of January, more than 88,000 people in the US were waiting for a kidney transplant, according to the federal government.
“The biggest questions are always, ‘What’s going to happen? What do you need? What should I do?,” said Jill Gomez, 46, a school secretary who said she has met on social media from other parents whose children need kidney transplants. “If this” [series] It was there, I might have looked at it myself.
The tight-knit family also includes older brother Kyle, 17, and four dogs.
Perhaps the kidney before birth
Doctors noticed a problem with Tyler’s kidneys when his mother was pregnant with him. After he was born, they decided to stop growing one. High creatinine levels indicated problems with remaining kidney function.
Over the years, Tyler was put on different medications as doctors worked to get the kidney working properly.
“These patients have been linked to kidney doctors since childhood, who work tirelessly to try and time the condition and do whatever they can to slow kidney function,” said Dr. Elliot Grodstein, who performed the transplant surgery on Cohen Tyler.
“Tyler was one of those kids, but his kidney function was declining rapidly,” said Grodstein, an associate professor of surgery at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. “And so, especially in kids, we try to get a transplant first, before they need dialysis, because dialysis is important for growth. It is terrible for psychosocial development. Mind you, it’s a challenge for anyone, but it’s especially scary for kids.
Grodstein praised Tyler’s resilience during the difficult months leading up to the surgery as well as his own recovery.
“Tyler, he’s an amazing kid,” Grodstein said. “I have found many adults who, once they are sick, their psyche just dominates. They can only think about their illness. Tyler was in desperate need of dialysis, yet you could see in his eyes that he wasn’t going to give up his ability to play on the baseball team and be with his friends after school.
Both Jill and Sal were tested to see if their kidneys could be donated to Tyler and were found to be a match. After much discussion, they agreed to donate Sal.
Grodstein said he had a living donor and one who was a direct family member, increasing the odds that Tyler’s body would receive a transplant.
Surgery, then complications
The surgeries were performed in June 2021 in the attached operating room. The next day, Sal could see Tyler’s reaction to the meeting.
Their recovery at home was cut short. Complications arise when doctors feel Tyler’s pain in his leg is detected by a blood clot. He had to go into surgery, where the doctors cleared the clot and worked on one of the artery connections.
Finally, Tyler was able to go home and focus on his recovery. In the following months he felt his strength returning.
“Before the transfer, I was very tired,” Tyler said. “Sometimes you should come and sleep. Now I can go out and run.”
Jill and Sal noticed a change in Tyler’s energy. His body does not hurt and his joints do not hurt.
“It took a lot to get there,” Jill said.
Last year, a young Mets fan got a chance to see their team play at Citi Field. The family took a National Park vacation to Yellowstone National Park through the Make-A-Visit Foundation, where Tyler soaked up the great outdoors and chanced upon an elk in the majestic wilderness.
He will continue to monitor and take medication so that his father’s body does not reject the kidney. And it’s likely that at some point, many years from now, Tyler will need another transplant.
Jill hopes her story encourages people to consider living donation.
“You’re 99.9% going to live amazingly the rest of your life, and you’re going to save someone in the meantime,” he said.
Sal has always been fit, but the 43-year-old utility worker had to take a slow recovery after surgery. he was walking and then running. A little over a year later, he ran his first NYC Marathon, raising more than $8,000 for the National Kidney Foundation.
“Most people are not as lucky as we were,” Sal said. “I wanted to pay.”
And he wanted to show people that it is possible to live an active, healthy life with one kidney.
“This would prove that there was nothing to fear,” added Sal. “It’s even kind of cool.”