Sal Esposito became a hero when he rushed to lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001 to help as a first responder immediately following the terror attacks on the World Trade Center.
Now, he’s on the hunt for a hero of his own.
Esposito, 62, is suffering from kidney failure, and currently spends three days a week, three and a half hours a day on dialysis, the Staten Island Advance reported.
While he’s on a waiting list for a cadaver kidney donor, that can take between seven and 10 years, meaning he’s in “desperate” need of a live donor, he wrote in a letter shared to the Facebook page of the Carl Vincent Bini Memorial Fund, which is named after a firefighter who died on 9/11.
“I am a proud man and it hurts me to write this. I am looking for a live donor so I can get my life back. I am in desperate need of a kidney, help me please,” he wrote.
Esposito was at work at a Staten Island landfill when the Twin Towers went down, and he headed straight for the site to meet up with his brother Joe, who was an FDNY firefighter, he wrote.
“I could not believe my eyes when that first tower came down. I left my job at the Staten Island landfill and made my way to the site,” Esposito wrote. “I met my brother Joe on West St., he was with Rescue 5, tears in his eyes, he said ‘It don’t look good.’ I could not believe the devastation and life lost. I said, ‘Okay, Joe, let’s go to work.’”
Starting that day, Esposito went on to work 12-hour shifts clearing the tons of rubble that covered the area, WNBC reported.
“A whole year. We were sleeping there three, four weeks on the job before we started going home, taking showers and [would] come back there until the very end,” he told the outlet. “Until the last brick was turned.”
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While Esposito told CW affiliate WPIX he had no regrets and would “do it again tomorrow,” the work took its toll, and in the years since, he’s dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety attacks, even suffering a “stress”-induced heart attack in 2007, the Advance reported.
He lost his kidney function two years ago, he wrote in his letter.
“It is a horrible and stressful process,” he wrote. “It’s been 2 years on dialysis and it has taken a toll on my mind and body. I have no time to do the things I enjoy, like being in the woods or traveling wherever and whenever I choose.”
He also noted that he now has less time to spend with his beloved nieces and nephews, which include the two sons Michael left behind, both of whom are now firefighters themselves.
“Our family has always paid it forward and we’re hoping it will come back for my brother,” Joe Esposito told WPIX.
Esposito’s blood type is O+, and anyone interested in donating can click here.