A 9/11 first responder who helped removed what was left of the Twin Towers now needs life-saving help after he became one of many New Yorkers who suffered health issues years laters.
Sal Esposito of South Beach has been on dialysis since losing kidney function a few years ago and now he's in a desperate search for a matching donor. He was working as an excavator on Staten Island when he heard about the Sept. 11 attacks. That's when he dropped everything and rushed to ground zero to find his brothers.
The 62-year-old met his brother Joe Esposito of Rescue 5 but he would never again see his other brother, Lt. Michael Esposito. He also lost his cousin Frank Esposito, who was an FDNY firefighter.
What Esposito didn't think he would eventually lose too was his good health.
He worked 12-hour shifts along side hundreds of others who painstaking cleaned up tons and tons of "the pile.”
"A whole year. We were sleeping there three, four weeks on the job before we started going home, taking shower and come back there until the very end. Until the last brick was turned," Esposito said.
The machine operating engineer was always athletic and on the move but after suffering a heart attack and a stroke, his kidney also began to fail. Now he spends three and a half hours each day, three days a week, on dialysis. He says it may take seven to 10 years to get a kidney in the tri-state area, unless he gets a live donor.
Despite his poor health, Esposito stepped up and helped raised his late brother's two sons, who also eventually became firefighters themselves.
He described dialysis and a "horrible and stressful process" but he says he tries finding joy in spending time with his nieces and nephews.
"We paid it forward. So maybe somebody's out there and it will come back to us," his brother Joe said.
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