EO Spotlight: Keith Naccari

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Partner at Sternberg, Naccari & White, LLC • Law • EO Member

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For Keith Naccari helping others is in his nature — it’s something he said comes from his tight-knit family, who never think twice about lending a hand when it’s in their means to do so.

And Naccari is not just talk: a man who strives to match his ideals with action, his generosity was put to the ultimate test when a family member suffered from kidney failure, and whose survival suddenly depended on a quick transplant. 

“It started as a blood clot and ended up forming a hematoma on his kidney, which caused it to fail over a two year period,” Naccari said. True to his word, he didn’t think twice and immediately volunteered to donate one of his own kidneys to his relative. 

“It wasn't even a difficult choice. I knew I could help, and I always have tried to figure out ways to help and contribute,” he said. “We originally thought I was going to be a match to directly donate to him. I was a low-level antibody, but it was good.”

The situation was seemingly perfect, but a week before the procedure was to be scheduled, another cross-check revealed that the antibodies no longer matched between donor and recipient. 

“We went to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville for another opinion and went through that procedure again,” Naccari said. “The antibodies were still too high to go forward with the procedure, but they had a swap program internally that we were able to take advantage of.”

That program, it turns out, is called a kidney chain, a system in which several possible donors and possible recipients exchange resources — in this case, organs — until everyone is paired with a match. Such a situation is ideal for patients who would otherwise be added to a transplant list and would have to wait for match to turn up, which can sometimes take years.

“My kidney actually ended up going up to Minnesota, and his came in from Minnesota,” Naccari said. “There were six recipients total who successfully got kidneys off of the chain.”

The swap program was facilitated by the Mayo Clinic program, which has hospitals in Arizona, Minnesota, and Jacksonville, Florida. 

“They have their own database, so they were able to put us in there and figure out whose cross-matches matched who,” Naccari said. “They also look at age of donors, things like that, so that everybody's getting kidneys of similar types, and they were able to fit that together.”

For all the stress that a situation such as this might bring to the average person, Naccari kept an open and optimistic mind throughout the process. He was in and out of the Jacksonville hospital in one day but remained in the area for a few weeks to maintain regular checkups. Things seemed to be going smoothly — both his relative and his recipient went through their operations without complication, and he was finally allowed to return home.

“Then I ended up getting an infection about eight weeks later. That put me back in the hospital for about a week,” Naccari said.  “One morning, I just woke up and couldn't stand. So I went to the hospital, and they weren't exactly sure what it was at first. And then once they started treating me with antibiotics, it ended up being fine — but an abscess formed from the infection, causing a two/three-and-a-half-inch hole in my stomach.”

To remedy this, Naccari had to wear a vacuum on his stomach, which would hold the tissue together so that it could heal. For two weeks, the vacuum went with him everywhere he went and charged by his bedside at night, but he still didn’t let the complications sour his mood — something he said was easier to do with the support of his colleagues and his fellow EO (Entrepreneur’s Organization) Louisiana members.

“My law partners at Sternberg, Naccari & White, LLC were great through the whole experience as well,” he said. “I was physically out of the office for about a month and was away from clients for about a week. But they were very supportive through that whole process.”

And with the assistance Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Healthnetwork Foundation — which grants members VIP access to some of the top healthcare providers in the country and directly links patients with specialists — and the Mayo Clinic facilitating, the operation and the kidney chain was efficient and, most importantly, fast.

“It was so helpful just going through that process and having my law partners and EO people to fall back on,” Naccari said. 

All this support — and Naccari’s own persistence and optimism — paid off, and he was able to return to work and his regular life after his stomach healed. At their checkups with the Mayo Clinic, both Naccari and his relative showed no further complications. The kidney chain was a success for everyone involved, and he was even able to meet and befriend the person who received his kidney.

“I met her for the first time at the Saints-Cowboys game, because she actually lives in Dallas now,” Naccari said. “I flew up there and we went to the game together. We check in on each other about once a week.”

With all the good that he had done, Naccari remains the humble and reserved type — he would never call himself “selfless,” but to those who observed the sacrifices he made, it’s clear that that’s exactly what he is. His only hope is that his story can inspire others to extend a hand whenever they see someone in need.

“People always tell me it was a big decision, but to me it wasn't. I know that sounds strange, but he needed help, and I could help. It made sense,” Naccari said. “I tell everybody that if you have the opportunity to help somebody like that, you should.”

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