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Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Great teammate? Meet Bob Tenczar

By Gordon Edes

Later today, I’ll be filing a post about the state of the Red Sox bullpen entering spring training, which officially begins in 10 days. But first, I’d like to share a story about a great save made by a former Brandeis University reliever named Bob Tenczar, which pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a great teammate.

Two days before Thanksgiving, Tenczar donated a kidney to Bob Boutin, his teammate at Brandeis in the late ‘80s.

Tenczar had been good friends and suitemates at school with Boutin, a second baseman who would be named a two-time Academic All-America and ultimately elected to the Brandeis Athletics Hall of Fame. But after Tenczar wound up moving west, where he is a director of business planning at Microsoft, the two fell out of touch and only recently reconnected on social media.

Tenczar had no idea Boutin was experiencing kidney failure until last summer, when he saw an item about a fundraiser being organized for Boutin in the school’s athletic newsletter.

“I was shocked,” Tenczar told the alumni newsletter. “We had known in college that Bob was a diabetic, but we never saw any negative signs of that. When I read about the fundraiser for him and his medical situation, I was stunned.”

Boutin’s brother and sister were tested as potential matches for a new kidney, but neither were compatible. He was placed on an organ donor list, but his kidneys were functioning at around 5 percent capacity and dialysis appeared inevitable.

Tenczar learned in a conversation with Boutin, who lives in Plymouth, Mass., that they both had B positive blood types.

“The light bulb went off in my head immediately,” Tenczar said. “I didn’t say anything to Bob, but I did some research on the Internet about what it meant to be an organ donor. In the end, I realized it was possible. I was a little hesitant and spoke to my wife, who gave her full support to the idea.”

The men had not seen each other in 25 years until Tenczar flew back to Boston for further testing, which confirmed him as a potential match. Surgery was performed at Mass. General Hospital, and both men have experienced no complications since.

“My first emotion was guilt: Was I truly deserving of that gift from someone?” Boutin says. “The next thing I felt was gratitude. I was amazed that he would make that kind of sacrifice.”

You can read the entire story by David E. Nathan here. My thanks to Westborough High teacher Steve DeBoer for bringing it to my attention.