Two years ago, when Roy Jaworski was a fourth-grader at Parkdale Elementary School in East Aurora, he spent a lot of time in the school’s health office, where he struck up a close friendship with aide Amy Hassett.
Less than three months ago, Hassett gave him something a lot more valuable than a quick smile and friendly advice. She gave Roy, now 12, a new kidney in a pair of surgeries in Boston on Feb. 28.
“Amy is an angel,” said Roy’s mother, Cathy Jaworski.
Hassett has never sought publicity about her gift. She’d rather keep the focus on Roy, who has already received two kidney transplants. Roy suffers from a congenital urethral valve obstruction that has damaged his kidneys and bladder.
When it was clear last year that Roy needed a second kidney transplant, neither his parents nor his three brothers were a match.
“If I was a mother who had four children and nobody was a match for my son, I would hope someone else would step up for him,” Hassett said in a phone interview.
That’s exactly what she did. Hassett said she’s “all healed” now and missed only a little more than a month’s work.
“Roy’s the one going through this on a lifelong basis,” she said. “I only went through a few months of recovery.”
The Roy Jaworski story is more than that of a 12-year-old boy receiving a selfless gift from a school friend. The young man and his mother also crossed paths with the biggest story in the world so far this year: the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings.
Roy was recuperating as a Boston Children’s Hospital outpatient at the Yawkey Family Inn.
Oddly enough, on that awful day, Cathy Jaworski felt a rush of good feelings when she left the Yawkey Inn for a brief period in the morning to watch the marathon, roughly a mile from the finish line. Jaworski watched people in wheelchairs and others overcoming various disabilities pass by, to the loud cheers of an enthusiastic crowd lining the marathon route.
“I thought, Roy can do anything,” she recalled. “You can’t let your disabilities hold you back.”
A few hours later, Jaworski got a text from her brother-in-law about an explosion at the finish line. Like others, she thought it was part of the Patriots Day celebration. A little later, she learned the truth.
She and Roy talked about the risk, the heightened alert. That risk must have hit home for Roy.
“The next morning, he woke up and said, ‘I don’t feel safe,’ ” his mother remembered. “What a horrible thing for a child to feel.”
That Tuesday morning, Roy had to go back to Children’s Hospital, now home to some of the most severely wounded young bombing victims.
Roy returned to the hospital that Friday, the day the two suspects were found. While the Jaworskis were inside the hospital, Boston went into lockdown. The Jaworskis were allowed to leave the hospital to return to the Yawkey Inn. “There wasn’t anybody on the street, not a person, not a stroller, just us,” she said.
Roy had questions that day. Why would authorities negotiate with the surviving suspect who had done so much harm?
But he also learned a lesson. “We saw the city come together and do good, to overcome the bad,” she said.
A kidney transplant is no cure for Roy, who will have to deal with his medical situation for the rest of his life. “We’ll just pray that tomorrow’s labs are stable,” his mother said of his frequent tests. “I’m hoping he can go back to school in September and be more of a kid.”
Jaworski has another goal: that her son’s story can move others toward action.
“If we can convince a few people to donate life, to give blood, to give platelets, to sign up as an organ donor or be a living donor, then we can make a difference,” she said.