By: Saraana Jamraj
Frank Molino, 57, a man who has spent over half his life working for the City of Coral Springs, is looking for a donor after suffering from Stage 5 Kidney disease.
Five years ago, Frank was diagnosed with kidney disease, and although he was doing well with treatment, his doctors recommended a transplant after his kidneys began functioning only at 12 percent.
After searching for a matching kidney this past year, he has continued the work he loves in his adopted home, Coral Springs, as the evening coordinator for the parks and recreation department.
For 35 years, Frank has overseen the parks at night, doing payroll, preparing fields for games, and addressing any issues that may arise.
Rick Engle, director of parks and recreation, called Frank a dedicated employee and hopes that his story resonates with readers, leading to a kidney donation.
“Often, those we work with are like family, and to the parks and recreation division employees, and me personally, Frank is family,” said Engle.
Throughout his career, and for most of his life, he’s also been married to his wife, Helene Molino, 55, who has been leading the search to find a kidney donor. She met Frank through his cousin decades ago when she was living in Bridgewater, New Jersey, and he was in Brooklyn, New York. They both moved to Florida in the mid-80s.
“I knew right away that I wanted to end up with him,” said Helene.
And she did. Two years later, they married in the spring of 1987.
They raised two children together: Frankie Molino, 31, who also works for the city of Coral Springs, as a parks and recreation coordinator, and Jacqueline Molino, 20, who attends the University of Central Florida. Like their mother, they were devastated to learn that their father needed a transplant.
“It’s been quite upsetting. No one knows what to do,” said Helene.
They’ve all attempted to help, but for various medical reasons, they cannot donate their kidneys.
Helene works as the unit coordinator for the pediatric intensive care unit at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale and said that she hadn’t prepared for this.
“You don’t realize how important [kidneys] are until you need one,” said Helene.
The family has persevered, continuing their search with the help of Cleveland Clinic and Florida Hospital.
To donate, there are several possibilities: Potential donors need to be screened and evaluated to see if they qualify. If so, they need to see if their blood is compatible with the person they want to donate to. If it’s not– the possibility doesn’t end there.
Both hospitals and several others around the country participate in a paired exchange program. Potential donors can donate to someone else they’re compatible with on behalf of the person they wish to donate to — who, in turn, will receive a compatible kidney.
They are hopeful their search will bring them a donor sooner than the waiting list, which could leave Frank waiting for a kidney five years or longer.
Right now, Helene said he’s doing well on peritoneal dialysis. Life has continued, and he is the same Frank that all of his friends and family members know and love: devoted to his family, enjoying and performing well at his job, going fishing and watching the University of Central Florida Knights and the New York Giants play football.
“He’s very funny, caring, and he’ll do anything for anybody. He’s a got a very good heart,” said Helene.
While he still enjoys life and remains himself, five years or more is a wait that threatens to worsen his condition.
“He’s very quiet about it, but he’s worried. It’s very frustrating,” said Helene. “But, I hope he finds a donor, and I hope it brings awareness.”
Those interested in donating or testing their potential can call the Living Kidney Donor Coordinator at Cleveland Clinic, at 954-659-6770, or Helene Molino at 954-536-9885.
Saraana Selene Jamraj is a writer, activist, and a student pursuing her Master’s Degree in Mass Communications at Florida International University.
She’s currently the Communications Manager at The Salt Box in Parkland and has lived in Coral Springs since 2004.
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