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EXCEPTIONAL GIFT: Canton director donates kidney to co-worker

 EXCEPTIONAL GIFT: Canton director donates kidney to co-worker

Abe Vinitski and Greg Hohenberger are pictured weeks after the successful transplant.

With April annually recognized as ‘National Donate Life Month,’ Canton Township is shining a spotlight on two of its employees, who have both served the residents of Canton, Michigan, for over twenty years working in the same department and who are connected even more as they now are bonded by a kidney donation.

Abe Vinitski, a long-time supervisor of the Canton Parks division, as well as the Canton Sports Center, received a kidney on March 3, after undergoing a life-saving organ transplant thanks to the generosity of his donor and co-worker, Greg Hohenberger, Director of Canton Leisure Services.

As Vinitski’s kidney health deteriorated, Hohenberger wanted to see if he could be a possible donor and took the first step to determine if he was a candidate. After completing the rest of the screening process, Hohenberger turned out to be a medical match and then made the life-saving decision to donate his kidney to his colleague.

‘I’d do it again in a heartbeat’

“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” said Greg Hohenberger. “After I started researching kidney donation to see if I could possibly help Abe, I realized there are so many people in need, so I quickly became totally committed to the process. After going through the procedure and seeing what a difference this has made in Abe’s life, I hope to use this experience to raise awareness of the need for kidney donors.”

“It’s great to see what co-workers are willing to do for each other,” stated Canton Township Supervisor Anne Marie Graham-Hudak.  “Not only did this altruistic act of kindness and devotion truly change one of our employee’s life, but this amazing journey that Abe and Greg have taken together is a profound reminder that people need to support one another to get through life.”

Greg Hohenberger and Abe Vinitski are pictured the day before the successful transplant.
Greg Hohenberger and Abe Vinitski are pictured the day before the successful transplant

To qualify for kidney donation as a living donor, potential donors undergo a series of tests to determine how compatible their organs will be with a recipient. Transplant teams also consider factors such as the size of the kidney and the ages of the donor and recipient.

“I just don’t have the words to express what Greg’s donation means to me and my family,” stated Vinitski.  “I am forever grateful for how much this amazing gift and selfless act has changed my life.

“Everyone who knows me knows that I am a private person, but one of the reasons why I want to go public with my story is to make other people aware of the importance of living donor transplants.  It’s pretty overwhelming to experience this act of generosity from Greg, but because of his gift, I’m able to get back to living my life with my family.  How do you thank someone for that?”

Living donor improves quality of life

A person with kidney disease could wait for years for a transplant from a deceased donor for the right match to be found. But a donation from a living donor can speed up the process and improve a patient’s quality of life much faster.

Still recovering from the successful surgery, both Vinitski and Hohenberger were quick to thank the surgeons, transplant teams, and support staff of the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Hohenberger went on to say: “I hope more people will consider going through the donor process, and I’m thankful that Abe and I can educate people just by sharing our story.”

Vinitski has worked for Canton Township’s Leisure Services Department since 2000, where he currently oversees the Canton Sports Center, located at 46555 Michigan Avenue.  In his role as Canton Parks and Sports Supervisor, Vinitski has helped coordinate numerous Canton Cup Soccer Tournaments and Liberty Fest events. A father of three, Vinitski currently resides in Livonia, MI, with his wife Debbie.

Hohenberger is the Director of Canton Leisure Services, where he oversees operations at several Leisure Services facilities, including: the Summit on the Park community recreation center, Canton Sports Center, and Pheasant Run Golf Club. Hohenberger, who has been with Canton Township since 2003, also oversees the operations of all Canton Parks. In addition, Hohenberger is also a Certified Park and Recreation Professional. Currently, Hohenberger resides in Saline, MI, with his wife, Kara, and four children.

To learn more about organ donation visit  For more information about the programs, events, and services offered by Canton Leisure Services, visit or call 734/394-5460.

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Ed Wright

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