Inwood resident Rudi Chiapot is planning to donate a kidney to his 5-year-old son Christopher on Friday. The surgery will be performed at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.
Last summer, Christopher Chiapot came down with a throat infection, which spread throughout his body and caused kidney failure. Since then he has been on dialysis, a process used to filter the blood.
Ana Chiapot, Christopher’s mother, said that she and Rudi were on a national kidney donor list. The transplant donor selection took place in December. At the time, she and Christopher’s father were tested to see who would be able to donate one of their kidneys. “Rudi’s more of a match than I am,” Ana said.
Danielle Divone is one of Christopher’s pre-kindergarten teachers at the Number Four School in Inwood. Christopher can attend school only twice a week due to his illness, but has managed to stay on top of his learning, Divone said. “He’s a very bright and positive little boy who smiles every day,” she said. “His classmates get so excited to see him when he’s here. He’s a good listener who knows all his letters of the alphabet. I consider him to be advanced.”
Cristina Viteritti, another one of Christopher’s teachers, observed how the other children in the classroom take care of him on the days he’s in school. “When the other kids noticed the port in his chest, he explained to them what it was and they understood,” Viteritti said. “They know he has something unique. They hold his hand and walk him into class together. They remember that he has a special diet and can’t eat a lot of different things.”
Rudi will be out of work for two months as he recuperates from the transplant, which will have a dramatic impact on the family’s finances. Christopher won’t return to school for six weeks. “They’ll be able to walk around after a few weeks, but for Christopher, no running, not until he’s completely better,” Ana said. “Right now, Christopher can’t eat too much salt. I’m scared, but I think the doctors can do the job.”
Christopher’s teachers organized a Cat in the Hat-themed pancake breakfast on March 9, raising $4,000 — exceeding their goal of $1,000 — to help the family with expenses after the surgery.
“Christopher has three other siblings in his family, and it was nice to see the whole family out at the breakfast,” said Mandie Bodanzio, a pre-K teacher whose class joins Christopher’s for some activities. “We all felt it was great to see everyone come out to help someone from the community in need.”
Monetary donations and gift cards that can be used at local stores and businesses would help the family, Bodanzio said. The teachers are considering having another fundraiser, a barbecue, she said. A time and date have yet to be determined.
Call the Number Four School at (516) 295-6400 to donate, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about how to become a kidney donor or to sign up to begin a kidney transplant process, visit the Matching Donors website,