Facebook is a dumpster fire for the most part, and I try to spend as little time on it as possible. But there are those rare times when a connection is made that results in a positive life-change.
This week’s Feel-Good Friday is one of those times. This is a beautiful story on so many levels, reflecting the meaning of sacrifice and giving to others, the power inherent in our lives, and the power that occurs when we give life.
From the Patch:
John Rubino, a Stamford native and Marine Corps veteran, was scrolling through his Facebook feed in February 2019 and saw that status update from an acquaintance of his, Robyn-Anne Blosio. Blosio’s friend, Jessica Rabasco, also a Stamford native, was in declining health.
Rabasco was experiencing headaches in 2018 and went to the doctor. After some tests, she was told both of her kidneys were functioning at 5 percent capacity. She was admitted to the hospital and began nine months of dialysis.
Rabasco needed a kidney transplant to save her life.
John Rubino is an upstanding individual, and not just because he served his country in the Marine Corps. Upon discharge, Rubino continued to serve his fellow leathernecks as a member of the Marine Corps League’s Lock City Detachment. Rubino raises money for wounded Marines and their families across the State of Connecticut through the Assistance Fund. This organization also donates funds to other programs like, “Operation Gift Card,” and the “Fisher House,” which provides lodging for the families of wounded Marines who are being treated at the National Naval Medical Center.
Even with this life of distinguished service and honorable sacrifice, Rubino raised that bar: He chose to donate a kidney to save Jessica Rabasco’s life.
On Aug. 6, 2019, Rabasco received Rubino’s left kidney. Aside from a slight rejection scare in 2021, Rabasco is now healthy and living a normal life.
“It was such an amazing feeling to be able to bring that relief to her and her family,” Rubino said. “People give me a lot of credit for saving someone’s life. I try to tell them that you get just as much back being a donor as the recipient does by receiving the gift of life.”
Unlike the character in the film 7 Pounds, Rubino is not trying to do penance for past wrongs; he simply believes in helping others any way he can.
For Rubino, his experience in the Marine Corps has stayed with him through the years. It has spurred on a feeling of generosity and love for others.
“It’s about belonging to something that’s bigger than yourself,” he said. “It says something a little bit more about being kind in itself. You can give that gift to somebody else with very low impact to your own life, and save somebody else’s.”
While he recovered from the removal of his kidney, Rubino began exploring ways he could help out others again through organ donation. People who choose to donate two organs are rare in the United States. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, approximately 50 people within the last 25 years have donated more than one organ to two different people. Rubino decided to make it 51. After ensuring his liver was healthy, Rubino offered himself as a partial liver donor. He had to wait another year before being considered.
Rubino was referred to Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y. After another six months worth of testing which began in September of last year, Rubino was notified about two weeks ago there was a match: a 7-month-old baby girl.
On March 2, Rubino donated a portion of the left lateral side of his liver to the baby girl. Aside from our skin, the liver is the only organ that can regenerate; so within a matter of months, Rubino’s liver will restore itself and return to its former weight, although its size will be different. The hope for that baby girl is that Rubino’s donated portion of liver will grow with her body into a fully-functional, healthy organ.
While standard procedure is to not allow the donor to have knowledge or details about the recipient or the recipient’s family, in both of these cases, Rubino has been able to meet the organ recipients.
Rabasco’s mother wanted Rubino to meet Jessica, so around a month before the 2019 transplant surgery, the mother arranged for them to meet at the salon where Jessica worked. In 2021, two years after the surgery and through a unique set of circumstances, Rubino moved near Rabasco’s salon.
Rubino was born and raised in Stamford. After living in Bethel for two years, he moved back to Stamford in May 2021 to be closer to family. In a twist of fate, he happened to find an apartment a few doors down from Rabasco’s salon.
“I see her all the time. We spent the holidays together. We are like family,” Rubino said.
Now the two plan on making the family part official. Rubino revealed in an interview with News Nation that he and Rabasco are now a couple, taking this Feel-Good Friday story to the nth degree!
On March 9, Rubino met little Ariany Perez, the baby girl who received part of his liver. Rubino gave the now 8-month old infant a Guardian Angel bracelet.
Frankly, I think Rubino already fit that bill.
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