Dec. 23, 2011
The Gift of Life
By Sean Ryan
Last Christmas, Nino Giarratano gave his father
Mickey the gift of hope.
This Christmas, Nino, Mickey and the whole
Giarratano family are celebrating the gift of life.
“I don’t know if words can explain how fortunate
we are now,” said Nino Giarratano, entering his 14th year as
head baseball coach at San Francisco. “It’s going to be a
wonderful time for us to enjoy it this Christmas.”
A year ago, Nino, the youngest of Mickey and
Josephine Giarratano’s four children had made a life-changing
“I decided at Christmas last year at this time
that I was going to be the one to give the kidney,” Giarratano
said. “The decision to donate for me was not hard at all. As
soon as I found out he needed a transplant, I was full speed
Earlier that year, Mickey had gone into the
hospital for what was supposed to be a simple gall bladder
surgery. His kidneys failed right after surgery and Mickey, 80
at the time, spent the next 40 days in the hospital. He began a
litany of dialysis treatments: three to four hours a day, three
times a week.
“It started to wear him down,” Giarratano said.
“It was a tough life.
In a typical year, Mickey would travel to watch
his son’s Dons about three series a year. Mickey wasn’t able to
travel from Pueblo, Colo., to watch San Francisco during the
regular season in 2011.
When the Dons captured the West Coast Conference
crown and earned a berth to the Los Angeles Regional, Mickey was
able to sandwich dialysis treatments in L.A. on Friday and
Denver on Monday with baseball – he was on hand to see San
Francisco shut out UCLA to open Regional play and then drop two
close games to UC Irvine and the Bruins.
The end of the season hastened the beginning of
the more important game of life.
In early July, Giarratano flew to Denver for
final testing to ensure that he would be a match for his father.
As luck would have it, doctors said they could schedule the
transplant the next week. On July 11, doctors transplanted a
kidney from son to father.
Six months later, Mickey Giarratano is back to
his old tricks. Nino said he enjoys drinking coffee and talking
sports with his friends. “An assistant to the assistant GM of
all three teams,” Nino jokes, his dad regular checks in on the
Rockies, Nuggets and Broncos and is more than happy to talk Tim
Tebow or Michael Cuddyer’s trade to the Rockies. He’s also back
to playing golf, exercising and walking.
This Tuesday back in Pueblo for the holidays
marked the first time since the week after surgery that
Giarratano had seen his father. Just today, Mickey went to the
doctor and received a clean bill of health, and if all goes
well, he won’t have to go back to see the doctor for three
Giarratano said that “it’s
a pretty emotional time between me and my father,” but there
hasn’t been much talk with his father about the transplant. He
admitted that other family members have been talking about it,
“Not many words need to be said between me and my
father,” Giarratano said. “It was a gift. The true gift is
everyone is healthy.”
And that is a gift worth celebrating this