TODAY   |  June 16, 2013

Dad to son who donated kidney: He’ll always be my hero

Tyler Furia gave his father the ultimate gift. Tyler’s gesture saved his dad’s life and made this Father’s Day that much sweeter for the entire family. TODAY’s Erica Hill reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> be thankful for. a loving family.

>> that was delicious.

>> fulfilling work. but, most of all, a second chance at life. in 2012 after 15 years of struggling with a rare blood vessel disease, doctors delivered devastating news.

>> the doctor told me my kidneys were failing, i lost it. i was shocked.

>> in that moment, i stopped and i was truly scared.

>> medication had kept the disease at bay but now it was attack i attacking his kidneys forcing frank to quit his job as a corporate chef.

>> being on dialysis and not being able to work or provide for your family is more than a struggle. it's not a good way to live.

>> every day he was tired, more and more tired.

>> to help keep his spirits up, his daughter alice started a face back support page.

>> people have wrote well wishes throughout this time. and that's been his medicine.

>> but what frank desperately needed to survive was a new kid kidney and time was running out.

>> i was scared of dying because i wouldn't have the opportunity to see my children have children.

>> yet it was his own son tyler , a volunteer firefighter , like his dad, who helped save frank 's life. tyler was a near perfect donor match.

>> it just wasn't fun watching your father suffer. there was no question whether i'd do it or not. i did it.

>> it was march 21, 2013 , one day before tyler 's 21st birthday.

>> it was a very scary moment. and that moment could make us or break us.

>> nearly six hours later --

>> they called and said his kidney is running. one of the best they've seen. it's a miracle.

>> what i'm thankful for the most this father's day, actually having my dad here.

>> i have a lot more to give and a lot more to live for.

>> and we are joined now by the entire family. nice to see you all here this morning. happy father's day.

>> thank you very much.

>> so you both went through a little bit, but how are you both feeling now?

>> well, i feel wonderful. it's like a 180. when i was sick and diagnosed with kidney failure , i thought my life would be over. you know? i couldn't provide for my family. i couldn't work. and thanks to my son, i'm free to do that again and go on vacation and such.

>> truly an amazing gift. what does this father's day mean to you because it was a long time coming?

>> it's really the most special father's day because we didn't know if he would be here last year. it's incredible. we couldn't be happier.

>> i know, frank , a lot of times as kids we look up to our dads, our dads are our heroes. you say tyler is your hero now. you became a firefighter, though, because of your dad. what's that like for you to do that together?

>> well, for me having my son just stand up and say, dad, i'm donating a kidney to you, there's no words to say it. that is my hero. and he will always be my hero as long as i'm alive.

>> we know you're a huge yankees fan, and because of your illness a lot of times you bought tickets to the yankees games and you were not able to go. we have a very special message for you, and it's father's day so, of course, a surprise. check it out.

>> he loves the new york yankees . i heard about your story. it's a great story. i know you have to be so proud of your son, and i know this father's day is real special for you. why not make it even more special. come to yankees stadium and spend the day with us. we have some tickets for you.

>> a personal invitation.

>> thank you. he's my favorite.

>> well, we're not done actually. we know you're big music fans which may or may not have something to do with your name, tyler . we have some other greetings perhaps for you. take a look.

>> yo, frank , is that you? hey, steven timer here. hey, i heard a great story about your son giving you his kidney and he's 21 years old. dude, that's outrageous. first of all, tyler , hats off to you and, frank , man, i hope you're feeling a whole lot better. i hear you are because kate told me. and, also, the two sisters, you have a whole lot of love there, bro. and, guess what, happy father's day because you're going to randall's island living social july 13. aerosmith is playing. i want to you come back stage and meet the guys. come sit in my dressing room for a while because you guys are really something else. happy father's day, frank .

>> wow.

>> i hope you don't have plans on july 13th because steven tyler is expecting you in his dressing room . your vip tickets. don't lose those. i don't think we have another copy.

>> frank , would you have ever taken steven tyler 's can kidney?

>> no. or keith richards .

>> all right. frank , thank you