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A reason to celebrate during Donate Life Month

Joe DeMayo, MaryBeth Foster
Joe, Jess and Kingston DeMayo
The Phillie Phanatic high fives Joe DeMayo and MaryBeth Foster.
MaryBeth Foster, Dr. Kenneth Chavin, Joe DeMayo and Julian Harmon
Mary Beth Foster, Joe DeMayo

Somerton’s Joe DeMayo described it as “surreal” that he was standing on the Citizens Bank Park field on April 11 ready to catch the ceremonial first pitch from the Maryland woman who 10 weeks earlier donated a kidney to him.

While the Phillies were getting ready to host the Pittsburgh Pirates, DeMayo and MaryBeth Foster were meeting for the first time, appropriately, during National Donate Life Month.

DeMayo, now 44, first suffered kidney failure in 2012 and received a transplant a year later from his wife Jess. However, last year, DeMayo learned he needed another transplant after an illness and dehydration left him with acute kidney injury. He was put on the transplant waiting list while undergoing dialysis that left him drained and tired.

Meanwhile, Foster was diagnosed with nutcracker syndrome, a serious condition in which the left renal (kidney) vein is compressed, interfering with blood flow. As a way to treat her condition and simultaneously help someone else, she became an altruistic donor and volunteered to donate her kidney to someone in need.

DeMayo was a match, and the surgeries took place the same day at Temple University Hospital.

“I’m feeling great,” Foster said. “It’s been a long, long journey. I suffered for so long.”

“My numbers are really, really good,” DeMayo said.

Dr. Kenneth Chavin, who performed Foster’s surgery and assisted in DeMayo’s, also threw out a first pitch to Julian Harmon, a Temple Hospital employee and kidney recipient.

DeMayo called the transplant a “blessing.” He’s now able to walk the dog and play with his energetic 5-year-old son Kingston in the backyard without getting as tired.

“Thank you,” he told Foster. “I don’t think I could ever say it enough.”

DeMayo acknowledged it is a “huge sacrifice” to donate.

“But it’s very doable and worth it,” he said. “There’s really no reason not to. Everybody who donates is a hero.” ••

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