GAITHERSBURG, Md. - You can definitely call him "Handyman of the Year." A Gaithersburg family says a friend and someone who normally handles odd jobs for them around the house, gave the Montgomery County family the gift of life.
"I just burst into tears. I’m like going, ‘Oh my.’ I mean it’s like going, ‘Who are you?’ And it’s kind of like, wow," said Mary Antonelli, describing her reaction last October, when her husband had called her over to hear what their 62-year-old handyman, Daniel Reynolds, had just told him.
What Reynolds told 75-year-old Tony Antonelli, was that he would give him his kidney.
Reynolds, who told FOX 5 he believed he was moving the grass for the Antonelli’s at the time, had become friends with the Gaithersburg family doing a number of jobs around the home for them.
It was in October 2020 when after completing a job, Reynolds said he noticed the 75-year-old was not looking well. When Reynolds asked if Antonelli was feeling okay, he said Antonelli answered no – that he had to start dialysis because his kidneys were failing.
Mary Antonelli told FOX 5, "…and Dan said, well what blood type are you? Tony told him. He said, ‘Well that’s my blood type! I would be honored to give you my kidney. What number do I call?’ That. Just like that."
Mary Antonelli told FOX 5 the family hadn’t even asked or started their search yet for a kidney donor.
"I said, let’s get the ball rolling and see if it works and we’ll take it from there. One day at time," Reynolds humbly answered in a Monday Zoom interview.
The Antonelli family told FOX 5 Reynolds stuck through it, even in this pandemic, when many people are still afraid to go even outside.
Incredibly grateful, the family created a GoFundMe account to raise money for Reynolds since he won’t be able to work while recovering.
The kidney transplant took place at George Washington University Hospital this past Tuesday, February 23rd, according to Mary Antonelli. Reynolds is out of the hospital and being cared for by his daughter.
Antonelli tells FOX 5 her husband is expected to be released on Tuesday.
Antonelli also told FOX 5, she knows what the post-surgery recovery period is like. Four years ago, on Valentine’s Day, Antonelli says she gave a kidney to her husband. Mary Antonelli said it worked for about three years, but then the kidney started to scar and doctors did not know why.
"I said, Dan, I don’t even – I don’t know how to thank you, again. And he said, ‘I would do it over a 100 times for him.’ We just want this man to feel good," Mary Antonelli told FOX 5.
She says the couple also has 13 grandchildren, ages 15 to one-year-old, and called this a gift of life to the entire family, friends and beyond.
When asked why he decided to donate his kidney, Reynolds called Antonelli and great guy and spoke of their friendship. Reynolds also shared some of his history, telling FOX 5 he served over 20 years in the military – experiencing harder times of loss, a divorce and homelessness after. He also spoke of his appreciation for those who helped him through those tough times.
"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," said Dan Reynolds.