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    Default Sharing common bonds....

    From the Thursday edition of the MetroWest Daily News...

    Sharing common bonds
    By John Hilliard/ Daily News Staff
    Thursday, February 23, 2006

    HOLLISTON -- A town selectman owes his health to a Natick firefighter who went under the knife -- and above the call of duty -- to donate a kidney to the ailing official.

    "If I could help somebody else, I would do it," said Doug Fuller, a Natick firefighter and emergency medical technician, who donated his kidney to Holliston Selectman Carl Damigella in early January at Massachusetts General Hospital.

    Although the two men never met until a month ago, they share some history.

    Both are firefighters -- Damigella retired from Hollistonís service 10 years ago -- plus Damigella knew Fullerís late father while the two trained as EMTs.

    "I really didnít know what to say to him," Damigella said in an interview at his home yesterday.

    He gestured to his left, where Fuller sat at his side.

    "It was a lifesaving donation...itís hard to put into words to thank somebody for that," he said.

    Damigellaís kidneys failed last March and he waited until November before Fuller volunteered. The 55-year-old selectman, who also suffers from diabetes, had been undergoing kidney dialysis three times a week.

    Fuller, 36, learned of Damigellaís plight through coverage in the Daily News and underwent testing late last year to learn whether he was a compatible donor. Fuller, an eight-year veteran firefighter, often works with dialysis patients and wanted to be a donor if he had the chance.

    According to the National Kidney Foundation, a living donor must be in good health and preferably under the age of 55. A prospective donor also goes through extensive physical and psychological testing.

    "My biggest fear going through the whole thing was going through the surgery and having a problem (that meant) Carl wouldnít have a kidney," said the soft-spoken Fuller, with Damigellaís dog, Tedy, curled up next to him.

    Damigellaís recovery was fast-paced: He was on his feet within two weeks, and had already resumed work on town business. Itís possible the close match between Fuller and Damigella played a role.

    "The doctors told me itís almost like they took the kidney out of me and put it back in me," said Damigella.

    There are still some risks. Damigella has to avoid people with colds and the flu for now, which are potentially lethal while he recovers from surgery.

    He also will need anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life. But Damigellaís doctors expect the kidney will last 20 to 25 years, he said. Organs transplanted from a cadaver may last only 10 to 15 years.

    "What Doug did was a sacrifice of an organ that will not regenerate," said Damigella. "Being 36 years old, thatís a big sacrifice to make."

    Fuller believes it is worth it.

    "Heís got kids and grandkids, and he can plan to spend time with them instead of being worried about being sick," Fuller said.

    Plus, said Damigella, his sense of humor has never been better.

    "Iím more laid back -- like Doug now," laughed Damigella.
    Doug Fuller is also a recruit instructor at the Massachsuetts Firefighting Academy.
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    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    WOW. Good luck and well done to both.

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