Matt and Sheila Kuschner met on an old-fashioned blind date that was arranged by family members in 1986. Although they are both Kennedy alums, Matt graduated high school three years before Sheila graduated. The two did not know each other upon meeting and despite wishful thinking; no one could have known how great a match these two would truly be.
Reflecting on his memory of their first date in the 1980’s, Matt shared with Your News Mag, that the two enjoyed dinner followed by drinks at Aspens, a popular bar which was a frequented destination at that time on Merrick Road near Mill Pond. That date was the beginning of a love story that today, is even stronger than ever. Matt and Sheila married and like many others who grew up in the Merricks and Bellmores, they settled in the area buying a house and raising a family here. They remained active Kennedy alumni and lived a self-described wonderful life with friends and family in the neighborhood in which they share lifelong memories.
Then, about three and a half years ago, they were confronted with devastating news. Matt was diagnosed with chronic stage 4-kidney disease. He was living with only 25% kidney function. Hoping to avoid dialysis Matt followed doctors’ orders in an effort to keep his hypertension and kidney function under control. Yet, this May his kidney function was at a dangerous low of 13% and his search for a lifesaving kidney began. A team of dedicated staff at New York-Presbyterian/ Columbia University Medical Center helped Matt and Sheila understand the procedure and the process of searching for and finding a donor. Upon discovering that she could be a potential donor, Sheila underwent a wide rnge of tests to determine her eligibility and to ensure she was healthy enough to endure the subsequent surgery. As some hoped, but could never have known to what extent, Sheila was a perfect match for Matt! Sheila was able to give her husband a life-sustaining gift, her kidney.
On January 15, 2020 the couple underwent the kidney transplant procedure. They are now home, feeling well and on their way to an expected full recovery. Sheila told Your NewsMag that she was thankful to be a match for her husband. Therefore, she wanted to share her experience with laparoscopic nephrectomy kidney donation and recovery in an effort to encourage others to donate a lifesaving kidney to someone anxiously awaiting a match.
Sheila and Matt continue to write their happily every after love story as they look forward to many more wonderful years together. Sheila plans to return to her position in April as a kindergarten teacher at H.D Fayette Elementary School in North Merrick. Matt is a retired chiropractor on temporary leave from his current position at Traveler’s Insurance in Melville.
Many love matches today result from apps and algorithms, but for Matt and Sheila, their perfect match is a testament to old- fashioned human instinct and modern science.
For more information about living donor kidney transplants and procedures visit https://columbiasurgery.org/kidney-transplant/becoming-kidney-donor.
To enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry visit https://donatelife.ny.gov