Organ transplant transforms strangers into good friends


 Toby Kash Toby Kash Tom Carr and Toby Kash were strangers until a life-altering transplant operation forged their new friendship.

In October 2010 at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, Carr, 61, donated one of his kidneys to Kash, who had been on dialysis and was on the National Kidney Registry waiting for a transplant.

“At first, I was going to be an undirected donor until a friend of a friend told me about Toby,” said Carr, of East Brunswick. “My brother, Dennis, and I had already been tested and were both a match for a kidney donation for my sister-in-law, Gail, in 2006. I was benched and my brother was the donor for his wife.”

Carr, a business management consultant, said he waited a few years until he was certain his sister-in-law’s new kidney was not rejected, before volunteering to donate his kidney.

He said doctors at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in NewYork started his testing procedures for a match, but NYU Langone Medical Center continued the procedures because Kash’s doctor and transplant team were there.

“I found out we were a perfect match for the transplant. The operation went well and there were no serious complications or restrictions after the transplant for me,” said Carr. “I think a couple weeks of discomfort is worth it when you can affect or save a person’s life.”

A few weeks before the surgery, Carr and his wife, Barbara, met with members of Kash’s family. He said the meeting took place at the Metropolitan Café in Freehold, where Kash’s son, Robert, is a co-owner with Joe Mosco.

“The meeting and dinner made the concerns of both families easier and it was better than meeting for the first time in the waiting room of the hospital,” said Carr, who with his wife has three adult children.

Kash, 68, a resident of The Riviera adult community in Freehold Township, said Carr and his family are a blessing from God.

“Tom is an angel on earth and I am one very lucky person,” Kash said. “It’s wonderful to resume my life, and I have Tom and his family to thank for it.”

She said finding Carr was nothing short of a miracle. “For strangers to be a perfect match is very unusual,” said Kash, a retired teacher for the Middlesex County Educational Services. “We were such a perfect match that my doctor, Dr. Diflo, said the kidney started to work right after the last stitch was placed. It was a miracle.”

Three days after the transplant, Kash said, she left the hospital and was soon walking four or five blocks a day. She still has some restrictions on driving, exercising and travel, and she said she will continue to take anti-rejection medications for the rest of her life, but she said, “I do have a life now.”

She said she and Carr have remained in contact by phone and email since the surgery and will keep in touch in the future. They saw each other at the hospital when they had follow-up visits, and both praised their doctors and transplant teams for the care they received.

Now that it has been about 14 months since the surgery, Kash said she hopes the two families will get together soon to celebrate the success of the transplant and their friendship.

“The holidays are a great time to celebrate, but also a busy time for families,” she said. “I celebrate every day for the wonderful life I have been given, not only at the holidays.”

Kash, who also has an adult daughter, Patricia, is an active volunteer of the Women’s Club at The Riviera.