CLEVELAND (WJW) – Ten years ago, he made a promise. Now, a local firefighter is fulfilling that promise by donating a kidney to help the daughter of one of his fellow firefighters, who has
since passed.

“I made a promise to her dad. It seemed like the right thing to do. I can’t imagine having three little kids that would all need kidney transplants, let alone one,” said Cleveland Fire Lieutenant Joseph “Jake” Konys.

Konys made that promise to Lt. Dan Sunyak when they were in the fire academy back in 2013.

“I told her dad when he was struggling with the news not to worry about it. That someone would be there for him,” said Konys.

Sunyak passed away unexpectedly two years ago, but Konys honored his memory by donating his kidney at University Hospitals Wednesday.

Leena, 12, is waiting on a life-saving kidney transplant.

“I was really happy, so happy that I cried,” said Leena.

According to her mother, Megan O’Shea, all three of Sunyak’s children were born with a genetic kidney disease and will need a kidney transplant.

“It’s a testament to loyalty and to friendship. To do something so selfless, to donate his kidney so that Lena can find her perfect match,” said Megan.

As part of a UH’s “paired donation” program, Lena won’t actually receive Konys’ kidney, but his donation will allow for a reciprocal kidney donation for Lena.

“As long as she’s getting a good kidney, it doesn’t matter where it comes from. It’s kind of a cool process,” said Konys.

According to Megan, doctors have found an ideal match for Leena and her kidney transplant is tentatively scheduled for the end of May.

Konys is expected to be released from the hospital Friday.