At the age of 18, Jonathan Newman, a lifelong New York Rangers fan, had developed kidney stones, which led to a Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) diagnosis, he recollected.
PKD is a genetic disease that forms clusters of non-cancerous cysts that develop primarily within your kidneys, causing them to enlarge and lose function over time.
Newman, a 39-year-old Wayne, N.J., resident, lost his grandmother and great grandmother due to PKD. His mother and uncle also had the disease.
However, they were more fortunate, as his mother received a kidney from an altruistic donor six-plus years ago, and his uncle received the gift of life from a deceased giver. Since PKD doesn’t affect a transplanted kidney, both recipients are doing well.
Coincidentally, his father in-law is a kidney donor beneficiary as well, due to chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Nevertheless, Newman has been working with his doctors to keep him healthy and avoid dialysis, and his kidney donor advocate, Donna Tissot, has been helping him with his search for a living donor.
“I just got on a donor list three to four months ago,” said Newman, a dad to a 15-month-old boy. “I have the same energy level, same everything. I still work, I’m happy, and my family is my reason for everything.”
Furthermore, Newman said that he is at the end of the line in his family for PKD, through genetic testing, so his son is safe.
Tissot has helped numerous people find living kidney donors and feels this is a special case due to the ever-growing son-and-dad bond they are forming.
“Jonathan needs a selfless donor who will give him a second chance at life,” Tissot exclaimed. “He wants to see his young son grow up and experience the loving relationship between a father and his son.” So please help if you can, she added.
While Newman’s busy schedule and the COVID-19 pandemic has not allowed him and his wife Stacie attend Rangers games, he remains a diehard fan.
“My dad had tickets from his company for years,” he recollected. “I loved going to MSG (Madison Square Garden) as a kid. When I started dating my wife, we went to 20 to 25 games that year. My wife became a fan because of me. Hey, we got married on June 14th, 2015.”
No coincidence, June 14th is the Rangers’ anniversary of winning their last Stanley Cup on June 14th, 1994.
Newman said one of the couples’ favorite things to do was meet Rangers at games and special events–something that is on hold for the time being, as an infant son and COVID-19 has made that impossible.
But Newman has not forgotten the kindest that the players had shown him and Stacie, as well as the rest of the frenetic Ranger fanbase. One player, in particular, stood out to him because of his gentlemanly, kindhearted nature.
“(Henrik) Lundqvist was the nicest,” said Newman, who noted that current Tampa Bay Lightning’s Ryan McDonagh and retired defenseman Brian Leetch are among his all-time favorite Rangers. “He (Lundqvist) would stop to sign autographs for everyone. Fans would wait outside for him, and he was always willing.”
As far as someone donating a kidney, Newman recommends people get tested to see if they are a kidney donor match. But only if that is something they really want to do.
Newman said the procedure is not that invasive and could save his life or someone else in the same situation.
“If you want to become a donor, then do it,” he implored. “But you have to have the mentality to do it. But I recommend getting tested. What do they have to lose?”
If you or someone you know may want to help Newman, please fill out one of the referral forms below and indicate donor for Jonathan Newman.
— Jerry Del Priore
Photos: First photo to left: Stacie and Jonathan Newman, with former Ranger Ryan McDonagh (m). Credit: Rose Donovan.
Second photo to right: Jonathan Newman, with Ranger Legend Brian Leetch (r). Credit: Stacie Newman.