Friend and organ donor Rick Bellando (right) with Matt Fulgieri (left) and Town Board.
5, 2008, Councilman Mark Cuthbertson presented a proclamation to Rick Bellando
in recognition of the selfless donation of one of his kidneys to friend and
former client, Matt Fulgieri. Some people may not believe in fate, but if
there is such a thing, this story falls squarely in that category.
Bellando has been an employee of Oheka Castle for 24 years and in 2003 planned
Matt Fulgieri's beautiful wedding at the castle. Matt and Rick became fast friends during
the planning process and just a couple of short years later would
come learn that Matt was suffering from Polycystic Kidney Disease.
This same disease had taken the life of Matt's grandmother, mother and
In November of last year, Rick made the
decision to donate one of his kidneys to Matt, in order to save his life.
Cuthbertson presented a proclamation to Rick Bellando, with Matt Fulgieri by his
side, in recognition of his actions.
With family and friends in the audience, they both received an remarkable
over 87,000 people are on the national organ transplant waiting list and nearly
6,000 people die in the U.S. each year -- about 17 every day -- while waiting
for a donated kidney, liver, heart, lung, or other organ. Moreover, only about 50% of family
members who are asked to donate a loved one's organs agree to do
While addressing Mr. Bellando and Mr. Fulgieri, Councilman Cuthbertson remarked, "No
one thinks that a person met in passing could be their best friend and
eventually be the one to save their life. This is a remarkable story of
one of those cases. It is a true instance of fate."