Rick’s Story

I’m a lucky man. I grew up with four brothers in a loving family that worked hard, and played hard, raised by “old school” parents. Parents that, by example, provided a moral compass, an engrained work ethic, and an abiding empathy for others. They showed us that the most precious things in life were, in fact, not “things”.  A cookout, a whiffle ball game, a day fishing, shared times with family was what our world revolved around, and most importantly the good health to enjoy it all.

I didn’t know I had this disease until I was 51, when I found out I was born with only one kidney, and that it had been compromised by a blockage in the artery that supplies it. A word of advice to all of you, do a health screening every year. Blood work can detect a problem early and save your life down the road.

The function of my only kidney has now declined to the point that I will have to start dialysis treatments within a couple of months. Dialysis will keep me alive for some time but it will not allow me to live. Compared to a transplant, dialysis will not only shorten my life but the quality will be significantly poorer. The thought of being dependent on a machine every day to keep me alive is intimidating. The restrictions to your lifestyle are numerous.

When the function of my kidney got low enough, a few months ago, I began an evaluation at the Lehigh Valley Transplant Center. As I expected, my family was all in. My four brothers, my wife, and my sister-in-law all immediately offered to be living donors. My concern was getting approved myself because I had had a heart attack 4 years ago caused by my kidney disease. However, the Center’s number one priority is to have no negative impact on a donor. Therefore, three family members were not accepted for consideration due to preexisting health issues that would potentially have an impact on their quality of life over not the short term, but possibly later in life.

The evaluation process is very comprehensive and donor safety driven. Even if you don’t save my life you may save your own. Two of my potential donors were eliminated because of undiagnosed conditions found through the testing. They can now engage in early intervention to insure a longer, healthier life. During testing I was found to have low grade prostate cancer. Because of early detection I was able to address it before it became more serious. All donor information is confidential, and no donor would be told if they were approved unless, and until, I was approved. So, I was thrilled to find out a short time ago that I was approved to be listed for a transplant. Unfortunately, that only made it harder when each of my three remaining donors were called by the Center and then had to tell me none of them had been approved to be a direct donor. We had thought we had this donor angle covered. How’s and whys were asked. Tears were shed. What can you say?  It’s hard to convey the emotional roller coaster this has been. Bottom line is, I don’t have a direct donor, and my window for transplant is limited. Any change to my health can knock me off the list.  So a direct donor is my only realistic chance. I am on the deceased donor list, but current wait times are 5 years and getting longer due to Covid-19. Not a workable time frame in my case.

It took some time to get my feet back under me, and I’m still bouncing up and down like an emotional yo-yo, but if I learned anything from my parents, it’s that God helps those who help themselves and richest is the man that has many friends. So, I’m working to contact everyone I know…in search of my HERO. I have an amazing family with a real zest for life. We are strong believers in karma and the joys of sharing. The reality of my current situation in no way diminishes how blessed I have been. Would I like to be able to enjoy it the same way for some years to come? You bet I would! This is not the retirement plan I had in mind.

So here I am reaching out to everyone and asking, “Would you consider giving me the gift of life by donating one of your kidneys?”

I don’t ask this without realizing the magnitude of the question. I wouldn’t even consider asking if I didn’t know that it would do you no harm. I would never have let my immediate family offer to donate if I thought it would diminish them in anyway. People just don’t realize the need, or don’t know that you can live just as healthy a life with one kidney. With two functioning kidneys you have four times the capacity you need to live a healthy life. Over 5000 living kidney donors give the gift of life every year because it is a basic human need to help others. Most of us have had a loved one touched by a life threatening disease at some time in our lives. We are overwhelmed by the feeling of hopelessness and sincerely wish there was a way we could change the outcome. Through kidney donation you have the ability to change someone’s life, and your own. Maybe now’s your time. Hopefully, I’m the one you choose to save. Learn about the transformative power of donation by viewing this Ted Talk

If you would consider donation please read this basic donor information. All expenses are paid by the National Kidney Foundation, the evaluations can be done wherever you live, and you can withdraw at any point up until the day of surgery. Blood type does not matter. Please share your spare and donate a kidney today. Even if you aren’t my match, you can still save my life!

If this is not something you would consider please use the power of your contacts to help me on my life saving mission. I need to find a donor now. Tell everyone, and anyone, my story. Tell them how they could safely and at no expense to them, literally save my life while doing something that will come to define their own.

A final word. Treasure each good day you’re blessed with, and don’t wait to tell the special people in your life how much you love them!