(WCBS 880) — Mets legend Ed Kranepool has a new lease on life after receiving a new kidney this week.
The incredible story behind the kidney the member of the '69 Miracle Mets received started with, of all things, a Yankees fan.
Port Authority Police Officer Brian Cooney told the Daily News he had donated blood all his life but had never donated an organ. He heard about the need for kidneys, and although no one he knew needed one, he talked to a hospital about donating to a stranger.
"I don't really have any particular reason, I just felt like it was a good chance for me to do good," the 45-year-old said Friday. "I didn't have anyone in mind, I just wanted to pay it forward and give thanks for a great life that I've had. I've had a blessed life and a blessed career, very few problems to speak of and nothing to complain about."
His kidney went to a volunteer firefighter from Glenwood Landing named Al Barbieri, who was dignosed with kidney cancer and was on dialysis for years.
"Police officers are here in the world today so that firefighters can have kidneys too," Barbieri said. "With this transplant I'll be able to see my children -- I'll be able to see them graduate, I'll be able to go to their weddings, I'll be able see my grandchildren."
As part of a registry exchange program, the firefighter’s wife agreed to pay it forward and donate one of her own kidneys to someone else.
That someone turned out to be Kranepool.
"It was the best thing I ever did," Deborah Barbieri said.
The operations happened Tuesday at Stony Brook University Hospital.
"The program here at Stony Brook is just wonderful," Kranepool said. "Everyone has been so cooperative, so helpful. They held your hand from day one."
Everyone is doing well.
About his new kidney Kranepool joked, "The kidney you gave me I think I'm getting some hot flashes at nighttime. I hope I don't get all your symptoms."
Kranepool played all 18 of his major league seasons with the Mets and has the record for most games played for the franchise.
The 74-year-old told WCBS 880's Peter Haskell, upon finding out he would be receiving a kidney in April, "We've been very fortunate to get great news from the hospital."
Kranepool said he hopes his story helps others.
"I just want to get the visibility out there, the awareness, to help other people," he said.
There are currently 80,000 people waiting for kidney transplants.