Sandro Principato – 1965-2019
The too-early loss of our dear Sandro Principato has deeply saddened not only his devoted family and his many friends, but thousands of people he touched throughout his extraordinary life.
Sandro was born with thalassemia major in an era in which children were expected to die before the age of 18 years. He weathered thalassemia, and its many complications and difficulties, with dignity, grace and optimism. Sandro’s unique qualities – his courage, honesty, sound judgment, warmth, kindness and generous spirit, to name a few among so many — were never defeated by life’s challenges. Although not bestowed the gift of an easy life, Sandro provided an example of a life lived well.
Over the last 30 years, early death in thalassemia has become unusual (this is by contrast to Asia, where sadly, most children still die before the age of 18 years). But early deaths from thalassemia were expected when Sandro, and his brother John, began treatment (under the care of my father, who was still a young pediatrician when he first met them and who — knowing the then-terrible prognosis for thalassemia major — worried constantly about them).
That dismal prognosis was changed by the chelating therapy which was introduced when Sandro was a teenager. That extended his life by many years over what had once been predicted. And everyone who ever met Sandro has been grateful for those years.
But it was really Sandro’s own determination, spirit and courage that allowed him to lead a productive, meaningful life full of joy and contribution to others. Sandro was never defined by his illness. Rather, he – in his patience, perseverance, strength, and true grace — showed us how to live.
Sandro leaves us — his loving family to whom he was dedicated and his friends – and we must go on, dedicated to his memory, and his example.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in a time of challenge.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sandro generously asked people to remember him through donations to Hemoglobal®