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Rancho Santa Fe Patrol member puts out call to locate kidney donor for his son

Vincent and Sal Gambino refereed a local football game together.
Vincent and Sal Gambino refereed a local football game together.

By Karen Billing

Rancho Santa Fe Patrol’s Sal Gambino is dedicated to saving his son’s life. He is looking for a live kidney donor for his son, Vincent who, at 21, is in severe kidney failure.

“I am a father who wants to see his son enjoy the wonderful life that is in front of him,” Sal wrote in a recent e-mail to friends and community members.

“You never know who’s out there and who is willing to donate and who could be a perfect match,” Sal said.

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In October 2013, Vincent learned his kidney functions were between 20 and 22 percent.

“This came out of the blue and was a complete shock to all of us,” said Sal, who has been a member of the RSF Patrol for five years after 27 years in law enforcement, including with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and Oceanside Police Department. “It’s very hard as a parent.”

In September, Vincent’s function dropped to 13 percent and, according to his doctors, this is considered stage-five kidney failure and he should start dialysis.

“It was difficult to accept how such a healthy young man could have stage five kidney failure,” Sal said.

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Vincent graduated in 2011 from Fallbrook High School and is working for Chase Bank. He is scheduled to attend Cal State San Marcos this semester, studying business.

Like his father Sal, Vincent is a member of the San Diego County Football Officials Association and North County Basketball Officials Association, serving as a referee for high school and youth football games. Also like his father, Vincent aims for a career in law enforcement — he is applying to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

“He has his whole life in front of him,” Sal said. “He is an amazing kid, he’s taken this thing in stride … He’s one of those kids that makes a parent proud.”

The Gambinos decided the best course of action would be to search for a possible donor before Vincent starts dialysis. Sal, his wife, Cindy, and Vincent’s brother, Nicholas, will all be tested, as will extended family members — however, if no one is a match, they would like to have a list of potential donors.

“It does take a strong person to be willing to donate an organ,” Sal said. “You only need one kidney to survive.”

The wait time for a matching deceased healthy donor is between five to 10 years, with a life expectancy of 10-plus years with a healthy deceased donor. However, the waiting period for a live matching donor is less than a year, and the life expectancy from a living, healthy donor is 20-plus years.

Vincent Gambino, who is in need of a kidney donor, in the hospital.
Vincent Gambino, who is in need of a kidney donor, in the hospital.

Vincent is blood type A-positive, so any O-blood type or A blood-type donor would be a candidate. There is no cost to be a kidney donor; the medical cost is covered by Vincent’s insurance.

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“Vincent needs a new kidney, and we hope you will consider being tested as a donor,” Sal said.

To find out more about living kidney donation, visit kidney.org/transplantation/livingdonors/index.cfm. To contact Vincent’s transplant coordinator for information and questions, call Jamie Rullman at (858) 554-4303. To request an application to be an organ donor, call 858-554-4310.


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