When Life Gives You the Blues, Eat Blueberries

Richie Rubin’s positive attitude is an inspiration to those coping with waiting for an organ transplant.

Richard “Richie” Rubin is currently waiting for a life-saving liver and kidney transplant at Mount Sinai. Because he has kidney failure, Richie, 57, must undergo hemodialysis treatments three times each week for approximately four hours each treatment. Because of his liver cirrhosis, he must be admitted to The Mount Sinai Hospital, almost two hours from his home, to undergo paracentesis (a process to remove the fluid that builds up in his belly). Just prior to being diagnosed with liver and kidney failure, Richie had beaten liver cancer and was successfully treated for hepatitis C.

Given his circumstances, one would assume Richie would be feeling depressed—overwhelmed by his health condition and limitations. On the contrary, Richie considers himself to be one of the luckiest men alive.

Why Richie Feels Lucky

Richie will tell you he has the best family and community surrounding him. His wife, Joann, takes exceptional care of him, happily driving him to appointments and making sure he eats well and has learned how to cook delicious foods even with his restrictions. He gushes about his children: a son, Justin, who helps run the family electronics business, and a step-daughter, Danielle, who just brought his beautiful granddaughter, Giovana, into the world. The list of those who love and support Richie is very long—and he appreciates each and every person. My brother, Gene and my sister, Adrienne, have been by my side through this journey. Whatever I have needed, they have provided it.

Richie also feels lucky to be so confident in his medical care. Leading his team of providers at Mount Sinai is Thomas Schiano, MD, whom Richie calls “heaven on earth,” adding: “Dr Schiano’s team has been so supportive of me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I couldn’t have asked for a more knowledgeable and committed team of individuals.”

Richie also says he is grateful that he has gained wisdom and inner strength and can see his own resilience: “I have learned to appreciate the things most take for granted in the everyday.” He now enjoys a cold glass of water (which has been restricted due to his kidney disease) and anything with blueberries. “It’s the simple things in life that make me happy now,” he says.

Looking Ahead

With so many people currently helping him to cope and prepare for transplant, Richie is looking forward to his life following his transplant when he can redouble his efforts to help others. “It is important people know my story. I made mistakes when I was younger, but I am now 11 years sober with Alcoholics Anonymous,” he says. “I want to help others avoid what I am going through now by learning from my lessons. I want to make a difference.”

Whether Richie knows it or not, he has already made a huge difference. By his powerful example, he is showing us all how to cope head-on with life’s challenges; how to maintain hope, dignity, and joy; and how to allow loved ones to be there for you—and how to enjoy blueberries, even when you may have the blues.