When you think about family, blood relatives generally come to mind, but a group of men in Hartford considers one another family, despite the lack of relation.
One member of that family surprised everyone when he made a life-changing decision.
Michael Winslow is the caring taskmaster who serves as artistic director of the Hartford Gay Men’s Chorus.
“It’s a very big passion of mine and all of these gentlemen are brothers to me,” Winslow said.
But even Winslow didn’t know how selfless the men were until he needed them.
He suffers from a chronic disease called polycystic kidney disease. The kidney’s, he said, start forming large cysts filled with fluid. Those cysts take over the kidney.
He was diagnosed at 18, but had no real issues until his kidney started to fail in recent years.
Doctors told him this time last year, his kidneys were operating at 20 percent and he would need a transplant.
To his surprise, last winter, he got a call from a chorus member who was ready to donate his kidney to Winslow.
Chris Bonatsakis, a social worker in good health and in his mid-20s, was the donor. He had gotten tested along with others in efforts to help.
“When it’s a family member or a best friend that's donating to you, it’s a little easier to accept but when it's someone you're not close with and they're taking that selfless act to help you, it really is absolutely amazing,” Winslow said.
Bonatsakis says he gave up a kidney not only because of Winslow, but several other friends who had been in declining health.
Both men are now feeling great, and Winslow is back to directing his brothers as they prepare for their most emotional show, perhaps in the five-year history of this chorus.
It’s called “A Walk Down Memory Lane.”
A Walk Down Memory Lane starts Friday at the Aetna Theater.
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