After eight hours of surgery Wednesday night, Carson City carpenter Vic Clementi is stable with a new liver and new kidney in the intensive care unit at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.
His wife, Kim, who stayed up all night with their daughter Ginny, gave thanks to the organ donor who saved his life.
"(The donor) lost their life, but they've extended my husband's life and they've given my husband back to me. And they gave my daughter her father back."
Ginny spoke to her father just before he went into surgery, Kim said.
"She said, 'Dad, you're going to be here for my graduation and you're going to be here for my wedding. I need you to be here for me.'"
The surgery started at 8 p.m. Wednesday night and continued until 10 a.m. Thursday.
"The doctor who did the liver transplant talked to us at 4:30 a.m. and said he was doing really well," said Kim Clementi.
Vic Clementi, 51, now has three kidneys but only one works, she said. Doctors leave the old kidneys inside the patient to avoid the trauma of removal.
Clementi, who worked on the 1998-99 remodel of the Governor's Mansion, found out in July he has hepatitis C. At the time he weighed 226 pounds. When he went in to surgery Wednesday, he weighed 138.5 pounds, his wife said.
"He went into the surgery so debilitated that he couldn't even walk, so he'll have to learn to walk again."
The changes have been difficult for the Clementis, she said.
"It's been really hard for Ginny. She went into the ICU today and saw him and just broke down because he doesn't look anything like himself."
He is retaining a lot of fluid, she explained.
"His face is really swollen and his neck looks like a football player, whereas yesterday, when he went into surgery, he looked like a person who was starving to death."
Clementi has tubes coming out of his mouth, a mass of tubes coming out of the main artery in his neck and tubes in the main arteries in his arm. He's also on a ventilator.
Kim Clementi said she looks forward to being able to look into her husband's eyes to know he's back.
She said the doctors caring for him at California Pacific Medical Center have been wonderful.
"(Vic) just has the best hospital and the best doctors ever," she said. "They're just all so nice and considerate and so caring."
While she is not free to talk about the donor of her husband's new organs, at some point she plans to write the family a thank-you letter.
"Being an organ donor is such a selfless act," she said. "I know that person's family is grieving right now. I know they're grieving. But they don't even know what they've given our family. How they affected us is just amazing. It really makes my heart hurt for their family because I know that could be us."
Hospital staff are using antibiotics to treat a possible infection.
"They said it will be pretty tough for the next three days," said his wife. After therapy on the hospital campus, Clementi will have to live near the hospital for 30 days.
She said the support of the Carson City community has made all the difference in dealing with her husband's sickness.
"We couldn't do this without everyone's help. There is no way that anyone could do this on their own. They won't even do a transplant for people who don't have support."
She described finding organs for her husband as a miracle.
"The doctors are really hopeful that everything is going well. He just looks really bad. But they warned us about that. And every hour he looks better."
YOU CAN HELP
Send offers of help to:
285 E. Applegate Way
Carson City, NV 89706
The Victor Joseph Clementi Benefit Fund has been set up at Bank of America: Account No. 004966550823