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West Hartford Man Hoping to Find a Kidney

Howard Weiner with his wife, Patti. Courtesy photo

Howard Weiner of West Hartford is in need of a new kidney, and has put out a plea to the community in the hopes of finding a match or starting a ‘kidney swap chain.’

By Ronni Newton

Howard Weiner has been honored over the years for his service to the community, but now he is the one who requires help.

Weiner, 68, has lived in West Hartford for nearly his entire life. He is owner and president of the nearly-100-year-old family business, Woodland Auto Body, where he returned to work alongside his father in 1977 after serving as assistant dean of Admissions at Connecticut College. He was honored as a “Volunteer of the Year” in 2014 by the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, and has also served on the boards of Hebrew Health Care, the East Hartford YMCA, and as a volunteer with other organizations.

On Friday, Weiner made the difficult decision to share the following in a letter to his friends and the community:

“This is one of the biggest asks I never thought I’d have to make: I need you to help me find a kidney.

“Many of you know that in August of last year, I went into Hartford Hospital with a nasty gallbladder infection that turned into septic shock, shutting down nearly every organ in my body. If it weren’t for the incredible team from the Connecticut G.I. Group of Dr. Jeff Nestler, Dr. Paul Shapiro and Dr Michael Golioto, I wouldn’t be here today. I am also forever grateful to the entire staff at Hartford Hospital and especially their Rehab Floor. Wow, were they good! And of course kudos to my wife, my kids and everyone who supported Patti and me on my road to recovery.

“While I have made an almost full recovery, there has been one major holdout: My Kidneys. I now have Chronic Renal (kidney) Failure. For the past six months, I have been undergoing four hours of dialysis three times per week. Dialysis does some of the work of healthy kidneys, but it does not and cannot cure kidney failure. It is also a short term fix. According to the National Kidney Foundation, ‘the average life expectancy on dialysis is 5-10 years.’ I intend to be around for a lot longer than that – so I have decided to explore alternatives.

“My best option is a Kidney Transplant. But to get a cadaver kidney takes 5-7 years. Way too long. The only other viable alternative is to find a living kidney donor. So I am asking for your help.”

April is “National Donate Life Month,” Weiner noted in his letter, adding that he realizes this “isn’t a small request.”

Kidney donation is a multi-step process, the first of which is signing up to determine eligibility. The next step is determining if you are a direct match for Weiner, and if so, discussing with medical professionals what that means.

Someone who is willing to donate on Weiner’s behalf, but who is not a direct match, could also start a kidney swap chain – where their kidney goes to another recipient on the waitlist who is a match and in turn another donor’s kidney would go to Weiner.

“If you go through the process and decide not to donate a kidney, no harm done. You will get the best, most complete and totally confidential physical exam available … at no cost to you,” Weiner said in his letter.

He said he knows “this is one gigantic ask,” but those who may be on the fence about considering donation may find their questions answered through the following link to Hartford Hospital’s Transplant Services program.

Weiner also shared direct contact information for several members of the Hartford Hospital Transplant Team: Azzy (860-972-4632) or Karl at (860-972-9918).

“Leave a message for either one of these professionals and they will call you back. Or you may call me. I would be happy to have a conversation with you. Thank you for reading and considering this request. I love you all for even thinking about it,” Weiner said.

Weiner can be reached at 860-561-2333 or [email protected].

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