By Katie McFadden
Meg’s Sweet Treats may save the life of a local diabetic. How can confectionary delights save someone who should stay away from them? Well, it’s more the woman behind them. Meghan Long, a hobby baker, paraprofessional and potential future nurse is about to come to the rescue of Timothy Rudolph, a local man in need of a transplant by making the sweet gesture of dishing out a kidney.
Long, a paraprofessional for the NYC Department of Education, started a side gig of baking cakes, cookies and other sweet treats for friends and family events more than 12 years ago, dubbing the project, Meg’s Sweet Treats. When she moved to Rockaway seven years ago, she brought her talents with her and took on another gig bartending at Riis Park Beach Bazaar. That’s where she met lifelong Rockaway resident Michelle Rudolph. The two hit it off and became quick friends. “We became friends while bartending together. We had a lot in common and clicked right away,” Michelle Rudolph said. Meghan quickly became part of the family, with the Rudolph’s home quickly becoming her new test kitchen. The family approved of her sweet treats and the sweet girl behind them. “When you come into our house and you become accepted, you become part of our family,” Michelle and Timothy’s mom, Marie Rudolph said. What none of them knew was just how big of a part of the family she would become.
At about age 17, as a senior in high school, Michelle Rudolph’s older brother, Timothy, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The disease left him with some severe complications, including having to amputate the toes on his left foot. And in March, things got worse. “I got a call from my endocrinologist saying there’s something wrong with my kidneys and that I needed to go to the ER right away,” Timothy Rudolph said. After a two-week hospital stay, he got the bad news. “They told me I had to go on dialysis and that I’m gonna need a new kidney,” he said. And so began the process of receiving four-hour dialysis treatments three times a week at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital.
The family kept the devastating news mostly to themselves as they navigated how to continue, but they quickly learned that kidneys are a hot commodity in New York. “The waiting list is one of the longest in the country. It takes five to seven years to get a kidney in New York,” Timothy Rudolph said. With dialysis treatments taking up most of his time, at 38 years old, Timmy’s life was mostly put on pause.
The Rudolph family decided there was no time to waste on waiting for a deceased donor. After hearing of the outpouring of support for Father Jim Cunningham of St. Francis de Sales when he was in need of a kidney, and watching their own neighbor, Mike Coughlin come to his rescue, they decided to put out a call for help. “We were told by the hospital not to put it out there, but how are you gonna get what you want if you don’t ask? We heard of someone waiting 12 years for a kidney, we had to pull the trigger,” Marie Rudolph said. On April 19, the family made the decision to share Timmy’s story in a public post on Facebook and ask if anyone would be willing to step up as a living donor for Timmy. The post was shared more than 180 times and caught the attention of many.
Among those was Long. “I knew Timmy was sick but didn’t know how bad it was until I saw that post,” she said. Soon after, Meghan made the brave decision to get tested. At the end of April, she underwent the full workup at Northwell LIJ Hospital. Long, who will be starting nursing school in September, knew she had to do something to help her Rockaway family. “I was raised to help people in need and when I spoke to Michelle about Timmy needing a kidney, I decided to get tested,” Long said. When she made the call to the living donor hotline, Long learned she wasn’t the only one that inquired. “While talking to the lady, she said, ‘he must be a loved guy because so many people are calling in today,’” Long recalled. It was a sentiment reiterated to Marie. “The hospital worker said to me that we have a lovely community and friends and family that really care. Obviously, she doesn’t know about Rockaway,” Marie Rudolph said.
But as she awaited results from her testing, despite the seemingly big outpouring of support from the Rockaway community, Long felt she was the one meant for the task. “I kind of knew before I even got the results that I would be a match. I could just feel it,” she said. On June 22, she got confirmation. And she decided to tell her good friend the surprise news. “I called Michelle and brought her over and told her myself,” Long said. “I was speechless when she told me,” Michelle Rudolph said.
The family was overjoyed by finding out Meghan was a match for Timmy. “I’m very happy that a person in my ‘family’ wished to donate and I think it’s an incredible act of kindness for someone to do that. It gives you faith in humanity, which we really need in these times,” Marie Rudolph said. “I think she’s very brave,” Timmy’s father, Michael Rudolph said.
Timmy was shocked to find that many had made the call to help him. “I wasn’t expecting anyone to. It’s really nice,” he said. But he’s glad a familiar face is giving him a second chance at life. “I’m honored,” he said.
For Meghan, the reality is still setting in. “It’s kind of surreal. I think it’s pretty special to be able to help someone and give them the gift of a second life,” she said. And her daughter, Hailey, has given her approval. “I’m kind of nervous but I’m so proud of her and happy Timmy’s getting a kidney,” Hailey said.
Timmy Rudolph and Meghan Long are in the process of finishing up pretesting and the lifechanging date for surgery is set—August 2. Timmy is counting down the days. “Just three more sessions of dialysis!” he said excitedly.
And the Rudolphs are looking forward to Meghan literally being a part of the family. “Who knew the baker would be a perfect match for the diabetic?” Michelle Rudolph said. “When I met her, I knew we would be friends forever, but I never imagined we’d be linked like this forever.”
Meg’s Sweet Treats will be on hiatus until after Labor Day, but she’ll be taking orders after. Follow her on Instagram at: megsweettreats