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Giants quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf saved Kevin Gilbride's sister's life

Eli Manning listens to offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride

Eli Manning listens to offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride during training camp. (Aug. 12, 2013) Credit: James Escher

The Giants' former offensive coordinator met with the Giants' current quarterbacks coach for the first time on Thursday night. And they weren't talking football. Their connection runs much deeper.

Kevin Gilbride, the play-caller who retired at the end of the 2013 season, was at the Polycycstic Kidney Disease (PKD) Foundation benefit in Manhattan. He was honoring Danny Langsdorf, who, seven years ago, donated a kidney that saved the life of Gilbride's sister, Laurie Cavanaugh.

"It's impossible to find the words to express to someone: Without you, my little sister wouldn't be alive," Gilbride said moments before being introduced to Langsdorf. "I'm the oldest of the seven and she's the youngest girl. She's my baby sister. You say thank you. Thank you for saving her life. There's no way we can repay you. It's a beautiful story."

The Gilbride family has a history of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. Kevin Gilbride's father died from it in 1972 at the age of 45, and he has a brother and sister who needed transplants. Those were more routine, Gilbride said, but Laurie required some special genetic needs from her donor.

Langsdorf was coaching at Oregon State at the time of the donation and was good friends with another coach on staff, Mike Cavanaugh. That was Laurie's husband.

Over the years, as Laurie's condition worsened and dozens of potential donors were rejected -- so many that Gilbride said he gave up counting -- Langsdorf kept tabs on her deterioration.

Eventually she reached 10 percent kidney function. The prognosis was bleak. Finally, Langsdorf decided to have himself tested as a donor. It was, doctors told him, a one-in-a-million match.

"I looked it up on the Internet," Langsdorf said of deciding to donate his kidney. "I was like, 'This isn't a big deal.' "

Not to him, maybe, but to the Gilbride and Cavanaugh family, it was. Laurie bounced back immediately after the surgery and now is healthy. At the benefit, Langsdorf was hugged by members of the Gilbride family (Laurie, who still lives in Oregon, could not attend) and given a small gift.

Langsdorf joked that he came upon his new job with the Giants not because of any connection with Gilbride but because of his relationship with new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo when they coached together for the Saints.

"It's kind of a twist that we never expected," Langsdorf said. "We're both hanging in there and doing just fine. All is well on both ends."

Gilbride did offer Langsdorf a quick word of advice on his new pupil, Eli Manning.

"He's got a great person," Gilbride said. "You can't beat the guy. He's hard-working, as stable as they come, as good a person as you can be around. If they shore up some of the supporting cast, I think they'll be fine."

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