United for Life: Kidney Donor and Recipient Meet Thanks to Times Square Billboard

Tags: Currents, Donations, Kidney, NYPD, Times Square

By Tim Harfmann

Thanks to one man, two strangers have now been united for life.

A Times Square billboard lit the way for a July 24 face-to-face meeting at Citi Field, as long-time Mets fan Ruth Tisak met NYPD Detective Michael Lollo for the first time after a successful kidney transplant last December.

Ruth said she’s “blessed” that she was able to receive Michael’s kidney.

The donation of Michael’s kidney to Ruth was made possible by Marc Weiner, a Long Island resident in need of the organ himself.

Currents News first brought you Marc’s story last year after he put up a 5,000 square foot billboard in Times Square. An aggressive cancer removed Marc’s kidneys, prostate, and bladder. He now undergoes dialysis three times a week.

The billboard read, “My name is Marc. I need a kidney. You can help!”

It caught the NYPD detective’s eye, and Michael attempted to donate. The two weren’t a match, but he didn’t give up.

“Even though he wasn’t a match to me and he was a match to Ruth, it’s great I was able to, some type of awareness with my billboard, do this,” Marc said.

“When I first found out, I was extremely proud and grateful that there was a match,” he said.

Across the country, over 113,000 men, women, and children are on the waiting list for a transplant. Every 10 minutes, another person is added to the list. About 20 people die each day waiting for an organ.

That was one of Marc’s main goals: bringing awareness to the need and lack of organ donations.

“My time will come, but the idea that we bring more awareness to what’s going on is proof that this worked and that the billboard did something,” said Marc.

“It’s just surreal knowing that an organ of mine is standing right next to me, but not in my body,” said Michael.

Michael donated his left kidney. As Ruth waited, she had faith in God.

“I always say I leave it all to Him. He works in His own, mysterious ways. So, everything was left to Him, and He found me somebody.”

For Marc, he’s still waiting. But in that moment, the wait was worth it.

“My time will come,” he said, “but the idea that we bring more awareness to what’s going on is proof that this worked and that the billboard did something.”