June 16, 2013 at 10:36 AM ET
This Father's Day, a son and his dad have a very special reason to celebrate.
Frank Furia, 56, a volunteer firefighter and father, has suffered from a rare blood vessel disease for the past 15 years. Last year, doctors gave him some devastating news.
“When the doctors told me that my kidneys were failing I lost it,” Furia told TODAY. “I was shocked.”
His wife, Kate, remembers the moment. “Our life in that moment, stopped. And it was the first time through Frank’s sickness I was truly scared.”
Furia suffers from Wegener’s Granulomatosis. Medication had kept the disease at bay, but once it began attacking Furia's kidneys, he had to quit his job as a corporate chef and was on dialysis three days a week. "It's not a good way to live," he said.
As time went on, Furia's condition got worse.
“I was scared of dying,” he said. “I was scared because I wouldn't have the opportunity to see my children have children." Kate said she felt her husband was going to die.
Then came some amazing news: The couple's son Tyler, 21, a volunteer firefighter like his dad, was a near perfect kidney donor match.
“There was no stopping Tyler. Being his mom, I really didn't want him to donate his kidney. I wanted it to be me,” Kate said.
“There were no questions of whether I'd do it or not. I kind of just did it,” Tyler said. The operation was in March, just one day before Tyler’s 21st birthday, and was a success.
“What I'm thankful for most this Father's Day has to be having my father here,” Tyler said.
The family joined TODAY on the plaza Sunday, where they were directed to a screen to watch some special videos that had been recorded for them.
“I know this Father’s Day will be really special," said Yankee player Robinson Cano. "We want to make it even more special.” The family was presented with two Yankee tickets, and an invitation to hang out with the team.
That wasn't all. Aerosmith's Steven Tyler had a message, too.
"I heard a great story about your son giving you his kidney," Tyler said. "Dude, that's outrageous." Tyler wished Furia a happy Father's Day, and offered two tickets to an upcoming show and a backstage pass to "meet the guys."
“I hope you don’t have plans," said TODAY's Erica Hill, "because Steven Tyler is expecting you in his dressing room.”
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