Beloved Albany chef grateful for support after sharing he needs kidney donor

Beloved Albany chef Yono Purnomo is in need of a kidney after he was recently diagnosed with end stage renal failure and faces years on a transplant waitlist.

Community members reached out to NewsChannel 13 as Purnomo, 72, looks for a donor from the community he served for decades at his well-known restaurants, Yono’s and DP Brasserie in Albany.  

Yono and his wife, Donna Purnomo, retired in 2022 after four decades of feeding the Albany community. Their son, Dominick Purnomo, took over at their two restaurants, despite his parents initially steering him away from the family business, he joked.

Yono and Donna have given back to the community and the arts through food, founding some of the area’s largest charity events. They also built a family of staff, friends and strangers through their restaurants.

Yono planned to focus on his charity work, including funding scholarships abroad for local students. He had plans of going to his native Indonesia and said he usually makes a trip to Italy to visit his daughter who lives there.  

But in April, he was diagnosed with end stage renal failure. Donna said it crept up quickly after he had been under the care of nephrologist for several years.

The kidney condition requires dialysis until he can get a transplant. He initially visited a dialysis center for the treatment. Now, a machine cleans his blood at home for hours a day.

In the U.S., around 100,000 people are on the waitlist for a kidney transplant. Yono has been told he could wait five to seven years for a kidney on the waitlist at Albany Medical Center. But he needs a kidney donor before then to survive and live life as normal.

The family put out a public plea on social media. They tell NewsChannel 13 they are overwhelmed with gratitude for the response and the outpouring of stories of successful transplants that are giving them hope.

“I think this is just another way that the community is saying, ‘Hey, we’re here and we support you,’” Dominick said.

Yono needs a donor with Type B or Type O blood. Anyone interested in becoming a kidney donor can contact the live donor coordinator, Jessica Martin, at Albany Medical Center by calling (518)-262-4602. Click here to learn more about becoming a donor at Albany Medical Center.

The Purnomos said the donation process is kept entirely separate from them, and they don’t find out anything about who gets tested to become a donor. They hope that even if there isn’t a match for Yono, their story helps someone in need of a transplant.

“We hope that, by sharing our story, even if it doesn’t get someone out to be a donor, check that box on your license, because the more people that choose to give posthumously, the faster that line moves up,” Dominick said.

Yono hopes he has many years left to watch his three grandchildren grow up.

“Now, with grandchildren, so beautiful, so smart, so intelligent so, I don’t want to go, to die now,” he said.