In sickness, in health Wife donates kidney to Milford mate; both recovering 
 By ANTHONY SPINELLI      Wednesday, June 27, 2001   6:10 AM MST
A donation of love: Theresa Fedor of Milford donated one of her kidneys to her husband, Tom, who had been to dialysis. Both say they are doing well.

MILFORD -- Tom Fedor can't help but feel extra close to his wife, Theresa, these days.

For two weeks now, he has been walking around with one of her kidneys, following a successful transplant operation.

I've always felt close to her, but now there's a piece of her inside me, said Tom, 43, who was relaxing at home with Theresa Tuesday.

He would have done the same for me, I know it, said Theresa, 42, smiling at her husband of 23 years.

Both must recuperate for six to eight weeks, Tom from the transplant and Theresa from the donation.

They sipped lemonade Tuesday on the veranda of their Forest Road home while watching their children cavort in a backyard swimming pool. They reflected on how good they feel.

Theresa's kidney worked so fast for me, said Tom, who had been lethargic and on a dialysis machine before the transplant at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

I've got all this energy now. I'm ready to do anything, he said.

The Fedors' transplant was a milestone of sorts at Yale-New Haven, said Dr. Mark Lorber, director of organ transplant for the hospital.

It was the hospital's first use of a so-called minimal incision laparoscopic technique to remove a donor's kidney.

Laparoscopy involves using fiber optics to peer into the body. That lets doctors operate using smaller incisions than conventional surgeries require, cutting recovery time.

Laparoscopy can be applied to healthy people safely, Lorber said.

A decade ago, most organ donors were blood relatives to reduce chances of a new organ being rejected. A wife-to-husband transplant would have been unusual, Lorber said.

But medical science has progressed rapidly, he said.

And the new minimal incision surgery makes it easier for donors to give an organ, he said. Laparoscopy has become better established, he said.

Conventional surgical techniques were used for the actual transplant of the kidney into Tom Fedor's body.

With the use of laparoscopic surgery making the procedure easier for donors, dialysis patients may not have to wait years to find someone to give them a kidney. Tom said he spent only 10 months on dialysis, after his lifelong kidney trouble worsened following a bout of high blood pressure.

I know people who have been on dialysis 16 years, on a waiting list for a donor organ, he said. I got lucky because my wife was my donor.

The Fedors share a family business, Altieri's Bakery & Deli in Stratford, where they sell baked goods and cater parties. They are eager to get back to work, but admit they wouldn't be able to take this time off without the help of family and friends.

Parishioners at Grace Baptist Church, for example, cooked for the couple nightly so they could recuperate. It was great, they were such a help, Theresa said.

The Fedors have three children, Joanie, 17, T.J., 16, and Jacqueline, 10.

I look forward to spending more time with my children now, Tom said. Before, if my son had a baseball game, I had to leave because it was time for dialysis. If my daughter was in a play, I couldn't go because it was time for dialysis. Dialysis machines take over your life.

Anthony Spinelli, who covers Milford, can be reached at 878-2130.

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