Reporting Monique Griego
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After making a public plea to save his friend’s life, quarterback Tom Brady’s mentor died Tuesday while awaiting a kidney transplant through Johns Hopkins Hospital’s transplant program.
Monique Griego has more on how their story is saving lives.
When Tom Brady learned his childhood mentor Tom Martinez needed a life-saving kidney transplant, the quarterback used his Super Bowl platform to make a public plea to find his friend a match.
“It’s reached a crisis point in terms of there not being enough donors available,” Brady said.
That urgent need became even more evident Tuesday when Martinez, 67, died. He was in the transplant program at Johns Hopkins. He would occasionally travel to the hospital to visit with doctors but he died after suffering a heart attack during dialysis treatment.
“We’re always sad when you hear someone has passed away waiting and it happens, unfortunately, every day,” said Jennifer Gelman.
Gelman is from the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, which works to match donors with those in need. She says Brady’s personal story of loss is bringing attention to the shortage of donors.
“It brings home the point that the need is real,” Gelman said.
In Maryland, there are currently 2,000 people waiting for organ transplants. Nationwide, that number jumps to 113,000. On average, 19 people a day die waiting.
Although Martinez died before receiving his transplant, Gelman says his story will help save others.
“It brings back that need for people to take the time for donor designation and making their wishes known,” she said.
Brady’s plea for donors did get more people to donate. We’re told several hundred people signed up after hearing about his mentor.
Brady and Martinez met 20 years ago. The quarterback credits him with teaching him how to throw a football.