Horseman receives life-saving transplant; ‘thanks is not enough’

November 23, 2019 10:45am
Horseman receives life-saving transplant; ‘thanks is not enough’
Photo: Leah Vasquez
Carlos Santamaria, who works as an assistant trainer for California-based Simon Callaghan, has handled, among others, multiple Grade 1 winner Bellafina and the promising juvenile filly Donna Veloce.

In addition to being an integral part of the day-to-day operation of a major racing stable, Santamaria has also been dealing with serious health issues. Earlier this year, Santamaria was diagnosed with kidney failure. Doctors informed him that he needed a transplant, and he needed it as soon as possible.

In April, when Santamaria was at Churchill Downs helping prepare Bellafina for the Kentucky Oaks, he was put in touch with Mulligans, a Louisville-based volunteer organization that supports kidney-failure patients who need live donors. 

According to a report from Cincinnati's FOX 19, ads were placed to spread awareness that the horseman needed help. He ended up finding it in 
Suzanne Levanda, a family friend who underwent testing to confirm she's a match.

FOX 19 reported the pair underwent surgery on Monday at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

“Thanks is not enough,” Santamaria told the station. “You know, for me, like I told her, now she’s part of my family. I’m part of her family.”

“All of my friends, everyone who heads about it, they tell me, ‘you’re heroic,’” Levenda added. “And I say, ‘no, this is about being human.’”


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