Teacher in life-and-death struggle - Veteran Brooklyn educator suffers from kidney disease; needs transplant

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Time is not on Frank Guariglia’s side.

The 41-year-old teacher from Marine Park suffers from polycystic kidney disease, a disorder which limits, and over time, eliminates, kidney function.

The condition can be manageable, but in Guariglia’s case, it has progressed rapidly, enlarging his kidneys to 12 pounds each and causing constant pain.

The normal kidney weights between five and eight ounces.

First diagnosed in 1994, Guariglia lived with the condition, which can cause high blood pressure. It was in 2006, for reasons unknown, he said, that his kidney function began to drop off from 60 percent to 20 percent.

“It is progressing much faster than they thought, and my doctor is saying now that it is imperative I address this,” he said.

That means only one option—a new kidney.

Guariglia, who attended and now teaches at Intermediate School 278 on Stuart Street, has been on a donor waiting list for over a year, with no luck.

“My surgeon said that I will be waiting for four to five years—and they don’t think I have that much kidney function left,” he said.

So he has literally taken to the streets—and asking complete strangers—for help.

“I never really wanted to ask for help from anyone, but now, I need help,” the school teacher said.

“But at this point, my best bet is for a living donor,” he added.

Flyers have been posted around Marine Park and distributed at local civic associations.

A teacher for the past 12 years, Guariglia has also reached out to former students and their parents.

Since March, 13 people have come forward to try and help.

A longtime friend came forward, as did three or four family members of former students, Guariglia said. The rest were total strangers who saw ads or flyers about his situation.

All were turned away for either health reasons or because their blood wasn’t a match.

Guariglia is blood type O.

The most optimistic of Guariglia’s doctors said that as of February 2007, he has one to two years of kidney function left. While he could go on dialysis, a treatment used to replace kidney functions, there is just a 50-50 chance it will be effective, his doctors said. Plus, Guariglia said, he is not ready to go on disability just yet—something he will be compelled to do if he chooses this option.

Married just last year, Guariglia continues to embrace life. For now, he can only hope it will be a long one.

“If someone with type O blood who is in good health is willing to save someone’s life, then I am waiting here,” Guariglia said.

To help, call 718-490-7963 or e-mail webg@optonline.net.

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