Tony Antonelli of Gaithersburg, Maryland, got a second chance at life when his wife, Mary Antonelli, gave him one of her kidneys four years ago.
However, that kidney eventually began to scar and fail, and doctors didn’t know why. Tony’s only hope now was to find another kidney donor. Fortunately for the 75-year-old, he didn’t have to look far.
In October 2020, after completing a job for the Antonellis, handyman Dan Reynolds noticed that Tony looked unwell. For years, he has done a ton of work for the family and became good friends with them.
Dan, 62, asked him if he was okay, and Tony revealed that he had to start dialysis because his kidney was failing. After finding out that they had the same blood type, Dan made him an offer.
“I was like, well, I’d be honored, I’d be happy, to give you one of mine if it’ll work out,” Dan recalled of the moment.
Tony called Mary over so she can hear about Dan’s incredible offer, and she just burst into tears.
“It was a complete shock, out of the blue, and quite frankly, you can’t make that up,” Tony said.
Dan stuck through the months-long trips to the hospital to do a barrage of tests during the height of COVID-19 outbreaks, a time when many people are afraid to even go outside.
The Antonellis knew Dan won’t be able to work while recovering, so they set up a GoFundMe to raise money for him.
The kidney transplant was done at George Washington University Hospital on February 23. Thankfully, it went well for both Dan and Tony.
Mary and Tony have three children and 13 grandchildren ages 1 to 15-years-old. To them, this incredible gesture is a gift of life to their entire family and friends.
“There’s not enough words to say how I feel and how Tony feels about this great gift and this great man,” Mary said. “When you have 13 grandchildren, you have a lot of life to live and a lot of things to enjoy in life. And that’s what Dan has given us. The possibility to really enjoy our lives and our family and our friends and the gifts we’ve been given to a fuller degree.”
When asked why he decided to donate his kidney, Dan said Tony was a great guy, and he valued their friendship a lot.
Dan had also gone through some tough times in his life. He served in the military for 22 years and experienced loss, a divorce, and homelessness after.
Luckily for him, a man named Doug Shumway noticed him standing at a bus stop in Gaithersburg six years ago. It was a winter day, and he realized that he could give the stranger a ride.
That person was Dan, who agreed to his offer because the snow had already reached 10 inches deep, and it was 15 degrees outside. The two chatted during the ride, and Doug learned that Dan did contracting work, so he hired him to fix some plumbing.
The job took a couple of days, and before Dan left, he admitted that he had been living in a van for two years after experiencing divorce and steep debt.
Doug offered him a place to stay, and Dan has lived with him ever since. He quickly became known in the neighborhood and began working for other families, including the Antonellis.
Dan said he appreciates all those people who have helped him get back on his feet, and he just wants to do the same for others.
“Would I like for everybody to understand is, we can help each other in ways that are immense, you know. I know, we’d all have better lives if we just got along with each other,” he said.
Dan even said that it’s “well worth it” and that he’d do it again “100 times if I had to.”
“There’s a reason Dan is in my life, and that’s to actually save my life. I can’t thank him enough,” Tony said.
Watch the video below from WTOP to learn more about this story.
Dan willingly put his life at risk to save another, and that incredible display of selflessness is something you don’t see every day.
Please share this story to inspire others to be more like Dan in their own ways.