CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Skip Lucibello had been waiting for a kidney for about a year-and-a-half in Connecticut. VCU Medical Center called him in May with word they had a kidney, but a simple mistake and miscommunication caused him to miss out.
“You feel extremely low at that point, you feel very depressed,” Lucibello said.
The hospital suggested he move temporarily to the Richmond area so he could be there within minutes when a kidney became available. It was at his apartment complex in Midlothian where Lucibello’s neighbor living directly above him happened to have a conversation with his sister at the pool. That’s when this complete stranger shocked the Lucibello family.
“She decided she wanted to become a donor and that completely blew our mind,” Lucibello recalled.
“She decided she wanted to become a donor and that completely blew our mind.”
“These people came into my life for a reason,” the neighbor and donor, Dannette East, said. “I mean, why was I talking to her that day? Why was she sharing all this with me? Everything seemed to fall into place from there.”
But Lucibello was cautiously optimistic. Living donors had come forward before, only to be turned down.
“One day she came to my door, knocked on the door. She walks in with a bottle of champagne and she says congratulations,” said Lucibello.
Turns out, they were an exact match.
“You probably have a better chance of hitting the Virginia lottery, the Powerball or something than being an exact match,” Lucibello said.
“I was like in tears,” East added. “This is like the first day of the rest of my life.”
While Lucibello is still in disbelief, East says she was just being a good neighbor.
“To have someone come forward like this, you have to be a special person. She’s an angel from above,” Lucibello said.
East said, “I don’t like that because I’m not an angel. I’m just a friend. I really didn’t think it was a big deal. If you’re healthy enough that you can help somebody else out, why not but it does make me feel good that I could do this for somebody else?”
Lucibello says thousands of patients are still in need of transplants. He says he hopes this story inspires more people to become living donors.