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Mate gives a kidney and the gift of life

Debbie Cramsie
Debbie Cramsie
Debbie Cramsie is a writer and commentator for the Catholic Weekly.
Life-long mates Tony Cranney and Phil Lesmond packing hampers at St Joseph’s Como.

Tony Cranney and Phil Lesmond are about as close as two mates could get … or so they thought.

Inseparable for more than 30 years, the two plumbers from the Sutherland Shire have shared every major event in the other’s life … marriage, kids, divorce, grandkids and death.
However, a donation of an organ to save a life was something that has taken their friendship to the next level.

Phil told The Catholic Weekly the remarkable sacrifice of a kidney by his best mate has literally been a Christmas miracle and come as no surprise to his friends and family due to his many years of tireless giving for the St Vincent’s de Paul Society.

“He really is a modern day Saint, I’m still struggling to come to terms with the incredible gift he has given me,” a tearful Phil said. “I have my life back and that is something I can never properly thank him for.

Who else would go into hospital with absolutely nothing wrong with them and go through excruciating pain just to help a mate?

“We met over 30 years ago playing soccer and his sense of giving has been a big part of him the entire time. I love him like a brother and bloody lucky to be able to call him my friend.”

About two-years-ago Phil’s health started to deteriorate and was told he would need to either find a suitable kidney donor or face daily dialysis and ultimately premature death.
Depressed and terribly unwell, Phil’s friends and family offered support but it was Tony who without hesitation wanted to help.

Just hours after surgery, Tony, left, and Phil in recovery.

Forty painful procedures later including blood tests, x-rays, ultra sounds and a colonoscopy, Tony was deemed a match. He said quite simply his mate was in trouble and he had to help and hoped his generosity would open others eyes to the incredible gifts we all have to offer.

“I live my life by Saint Mary MacKillop’s creed ‘never see a need without doing something about it’ and this was such a need,” he said.

“I could see Phil’s health going downhill pretty quickly and I couldn’t just stand by and watch, I had to do something about it.

“There was never a question of if I would do it, it was just a question of how soon. And the incredible thing I have seen through the whole process is how amazing the support has been from the community.

“When my family, friends and workmates heard what I was doing they were incredible, the offers of help from doing my lawns, to driving me to appointments to helping me lift things post recovery really affirmed my faith in humanity.”

The Sydney Central president for the St Vincent de Paul Society said his spirit of giving was his way of spreading the good word of the Lord. He said helping families in need gave him so much joy and while this was one of his “larger” donations it was one that was given with absolute love.

Phil said his mate’s constant gift of giving was one of the reasons their friendship had endured over three decades. “Tony really is a Godsend,” he said.

“For over 30 years I have seen him give so much to the community, his tireless work with St Vincent de Paul is an inspiration to all of us. In fact, just a week or so after he endured the surgery, he was out with a bucket collecting donations for those affected by the terrible fires.

“That’s just the sort of guy he is and I am very, very lucky to call him my mate.”

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