New York, NY – You might think of detectives on TV or in the movies as people who become heroes by pursuing the bad guys. But Detective Michael Lollo has achieved heroism in quite another way. In 2018, Lollo was one among a very small group of about 338 Americans who decided to donate a kidney to a stranger.
“About 300,000 are waiting, and if they don’t get a kidney, they can die,” Lollo says.
Lollo, who started his police career in 1999, began his journey when, in April of 2018, he saw an NYPD Intranet posting about another Police Officer named Tommy Alexander, who was in need of a kidney. Lollo says he called his wife, Maeghan, to ask what she thought about his desire to become a donor, and she encouraged him to go ahead. But Lollo’s attempt to contact the poster was unsuccessful. Shortly after, however, Lollo happened to see a story in the newspaper about another man named Marc Weiner, whose attempts to get a kidney had been advertised on a donated billboard in Times Square.
Says Lollo, “It was like – if you believe in the universe, or God – again, it’s in front of me. I just felt like – let me look into donating. But I went for a blood test, and we were not a match.”
Still, Lollo persisted.
“I did research on kidney donation and found out about a paired exchange,” he says. Through this program, Lollo learned he could become an Altruistic or Non-Directed Donor, a process that would create a potential kidney chain of donors, and thus, increase the number of recipients. Lollo soon became a Non-Directed Donor and his kidney was successfully transplanted to a stranger at the Walter Reed Medical Center.
When asked whether the process was painful, Lollo says there was only about a half a day that the pain was bad. “To change or save someone’s life [for that] – I’d do it again,” he says.
The chain of donors continued, thanks to Lollo’s courage and kindness. The husband of his kidney recipient, who had not been a match for his wife, himself donated his kidney to another.
Lollo’s advice to others who might consider following his altruistic example? “Do the research, speak to other donors, which I did,” he says. There are sites such as donortodonor.com, a non-profit foundation devoted to raising awareness of kidney disease and promoting living kidney donation, where information can be found. “Founder Ned Brooks was my kidney mentor – he helped me through the whole process. I’d call him up before and after [the procedure] and he’d reassure me. He’d say ‘That’s normal,’” recalls Lollo. Now, Lollo himself is on the list to counsel others. “I’ve counseled about four [so far],” he says. “Thirteen people a day die waiting for a kidney; we walk around with two,” he says. There is also the National Kidney Registry, at www.kidneyregistry .org.
Lollo has been married to his wife Maeghan for 13 years and they share three children- Jack, Harper and Claire. Lollo notes that both his wife and children were extremely supportive of his decision to donate his kidney – and without such support, as well as the support of his entire NYPD family, his enormous act of generosity would not have been possible.