Hairdresser in Bayside partners with nonprofit to find kidney donor for son

Photo courtesy of Georgia Tsapelas

A Bayside hairdresser is calling on a good Samaritan to donate a kidney to her 32-year-old son.

Georgia Tsapelas from Christie & Co. Salon partnered with Long Island organization Kidney Assist to find a healthy kidney donor for her son Demetrios Tsapelas.

As a child, doctors diagnosed the Long Island resident with a condition that blocked his urethra and caused irreparable damage to his kidneys. Although doctors were able to open Tsapelas’ urethra, his kidneys only functioned at 25 percent and they eventually failed him when he was 20 years old.

Twelve years ago, Georgia Tsapelas donated her kidney to her son and described the process and recovery as “easy.” The hairdresser said after a simple laparoscopic surgery to extract the kidney, she was back to her regular schedule within two to three weeks.

But eventually, her kidney failed him, too, which she credits to a high level of stress in his personal life and a poor diet. Now, Demetrios Tsapelas goes to dialysis three times a week for three hours each session.

“He gets there at 5:30 p.m. and doesn’t get home until after 10. It’s not a healthy way for a young person to live,” said Georgia Tsapelas.

A friend recommended that she connect with Kidney Assist, a nonprofit subsidiary of Chabad at The Medical Centers in Long Island. The organization, which was founded in 2015, allows recipients to bypass the long waiting list for a kidney by bringing their own donors to the table.

According to Rabbi Boruch Wolf, co-director of Chabad at The Medical Centers, the process of donating a kidney is, in fact, simple. Wolf donated a kidney to a complete stranger when he was 25 years old.

Wolf shared that he had been a candidate for bone marrow donation which fell through after the hospital found a more suitable donor. He knew a fellow rabbi with eight children who donated his kidney and decided to conduct more research on the process.

He approached an organization in Brooklyn to facilitate the donation to the then 62-year-old man who needed a kidney.

“It was a second opportunity for me to save a life,” Wolf said. “The reward is equal for the donor as it is to the recipient.”

The donation process involves a testing period to make sure donors and recipients are a blood match. Doctors check to ensure that donors can part with their kidneys without physical and psychological issues. Once individuals pass the evaluations, they are cleared to move forward with surgery.

Georgia Tsapelas said that she hopes the easy process will entice good-hearted people to step up and donate a kidney to her son, who has O positive blood type. She added that a healthy kidney will allow him to live a better quality of life and spend more time with his 3-year-old daughter.

“There are millions of people waiting for kidneys,” Tsapelas said. “I want people to know how easy it is. You can save a lot of people [by donating].”

To find out more about donating a kidney to Demetrios Tsapelas or others, contact Rabbi Boruch Wolf at SaveDemetrios@gmail.com or by phone at 516-360-0299. For more information, visit the Kidney Assist website.

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