Nicole Dean gave her son the gift of life and he returned the favor when she was in need of a kidney transplant.
A former community affairs officer at the 105th Precinct who is now a sergeant and works at the police academy in Manhattan, Nicole Dean and her son were on hand at a North Shore-Long Island Jewish Medical Center office Friday to promote the benefits of donating a kidney to coincide with the Valentine’s Day weekend.
Nicole Dean, a Rochdale Village resident, was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease known as glomerulonephritis in August 2008. Her only symptom was fatigue, but she said she felt that it had more to do with her hectic schedule than a medical condition.
“I figured it was just running too much,” said Nicole Dean, who was going for her undergraduate degree at John Jay College while she worked for the Police Department.
The autoimmune disease was diagnosed from blood work following a routine physical, Nicole Dean said. At the time of her diagnosis, 75 percent of both of her kidneys had been damaged.
Doctors said there was nothing they could do to reverse the damage and Nicole Dean lived with her deteriorating kidneys until she underwent surgery March 23, 2009.
Her oldest son, Dominick Dean, as well as her second-oldest son, two brothers and a cousin, all got tested to see if they could donate a kidney and all came back as matches.
“I picked my oldest son because he’s the closest one,” Nicole Dean said, noting they live together.
The surgery was successful, with no complications.
Dominick Dean said he had no reservations about giving one of his kidneys to his mother.
“I didn’t hesitate. I said I’d do it even though my uncle was a better match,” said Dominick Dean, who works for Valley Stream Hyundai.
He said he felt an obligation to be the one to give a kidney out of his two other brothers.
“The oldest son feels like the protector,” Dominick Dean said, noting that the operation has made his relationship with his mother tighter.
“We always had a great bond, but this made us closer,” he said.
Dr. Ernesto Molmenti, director of North Shore-LIJ’s transplant program, said most parents usually refuse to have a child donate an organ to them, but he said there is virtually no risk and that a person can function properly with just one kidney.
Nicole Dean said she did not have those feelings because she was assured her son would be healthy.
“I don’t feel guilty or anything,” she said. “I needed a kidney and I was offered a body part. No guilt, no shame. I’m blessed.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2010 Community News Group
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