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A Perfect Match: Bloomington man provides lifesaving kidney donation to his husband

Ray and Steve Naldi are hoping to raise awareness about organ donation
Posted at 9:18 PM, Jun 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-30 17:45:34-04

BLOOMINGTON — After 19 years of marriage, Ray and Steve Naldi have conquered many of life's challenges together.

"We've always gotten along. We rarely ever fight about anything," Ray said.

"Despite him being a Colts fan. I'm a Patriots fan," Steve joked.

In 2011, the couple adopted two children. They eventually moved to Bloomington to raise their kids and enjoy their life as a family.

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In May 2021, Steve received some unexpected news that impacted the entire family.

"I had a biopsy of my kidney and learned that I had renal failure in progress," Steve said.

As a result of high blood pressure and type two diabetes, Steve's kidney function declined quickly. He progressed to Stage 5 kidney disease in May 2022 and began dialysis.

"Dialysis is every other day. It is three days a week. It takes you away from your family and children for about 15 hours a week," Steve said.

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In order to prolong Steve's life, the couple began their search for a new kidney.

“We knew that [I needed] an organ donation or transplant from my blood type or it would be six to nine years for a cadaver kidney,” Steve said.

They immediately began to search for a living donor. Ray knew he wanted to help his husband.

"I wanted to be the one to donate to him," Ray said. "I knew that I wanted our family to get back to some kind of normalcy. I knew that by donating to him, it would help not only him, but our whole family."

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Ray & Steve Naldi share family memories with WRTV's Nicole Griffin

Last August, news came that would change their lives forever.

“He called me while I was in the middle of a dialysis treatment. I found out I had a match already that quickly, and it wasn’t just a match, it was a perfect match,” Steve said.

Ray was a match to be Steve's kidney donor, both on blood type and tissue type.

"What are the chances that your spouse could be the perfect match?" Steve said.

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March 9, 2023, was Steve's last day of dialysis. The next day was transplant day at IU Health University Hospital.

"We went into surgery preparing for the worst, and came out the best," Steve said. "I should have been out of work for about 12 weeks, but I went back part-time at week five."

Because of their experience, Ray and Steve want to share their journey in order to raise awareness.

"There's currently 90,000 U.S. residents waiting on a kidney," Steve said. "You don't have to do dialysis forever, transplant is an option."

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The Naldi's are now getting back to a sense of normalcy.

"We've promised to take the kids on a vacation. They're getting a puppy next month from us as well for all of their help over the last two years," Steve said.

Steve is forever grateful to Ray for being a kidney donor and perfect match.

"I will never come up with a gift as great as the one he's given me," Steve said.

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To learn how to become an organ donor visit Indiana Donor Network's website.

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