Archive for October, 2009

Kendra Dill and Etienne Cromer’s mom have been friends for years. In fact, Kendra used to babysit Etienne when she was younger. OK, they were both a little younger. But anyway, when Etienne needed a kidney, Kendra insisted on being tested. And insisted and insisted.

Finally, Etienne took her up on the offer of a kidney transplant.

“I thought, if this is what Kendra wants to do, I need to let someone help me,” Etienne Cromer says.


I don’t think I ever had a landlord this nice: Barbara Thomas donated her kidney to tenant James Love recently.

Thomas, of Brookfield, found out about the situation last December, when she called to check on a plumbing problem at the Sleepy Hollow home the Loves were renting out.

She fixed the plumbing, all right.

You just never know. Wayne Hurst donated his kidney because his father had died of kidney failure when he was young and he knew some dialysis patients. It was the right thing to do, but 8 years later, he finds himself on his way to the kidney transplant list as his remaining organ has started to fail.

It’s important to note that his donation did not cause his kidneys to fail.

Doctors told Hurst if he still had two kidneys, they’d likely both be failing inside him now. “A certain percent of the population is going to get kidney disease. It happened to be my turn,” said Hurst. He also said luckily, the recipient of his kidney is doing well.

By the way, being a donor helps if you ever find yourself on the kidney transplant waiting list (See this UNOS policy, part 12.9.3), so it is a blessing that he donated.

Good luck, Wayne. If karma is any indicator, you should find a donor in no time.

The story of Inea and Jonathan DeBlake is like a movie script. Inea took one path and became a police officer. Jonathan took another and is incarcerated on drug charges. But brotherhood is powerful. When Inea DeBlake needed a kidney transplant, Jonathan DeBlake stepped up. The rest was just paperwork.

“At first it was really rocky, the state, well its new to everybody, to my eyes its never been done before between the two agencies so a lot of red tape we had to go through. …

“I told him, you don’t understand, I’m seeing my light of my life going like this and you’re opening it back up for me. I told him, you don’t understand what you’re doing. …

“When I passed him, all what he did was shake my hand, he said we did it, we did it. I’m just grateful.”

And Inea says the operation is a new beginning for both of them.

“It shows him other things, you know the giving side, sacrificing yourself for somebody else.”

Canadian doctors are liking the results of the country’s recent 8-patient kidney swap and are already looking into doing another procedure. They’re still synchronizing the time of the transplants so that no one can back out, which seems to be falling out of favor in the U.S. (because it isn’t really necessary).

“There’s always the theoretical risk that, at the last moment, one of the donors may decide that they don’t want to go through with this,” said Dr. Gerry Todd, of Edmonton, who spent two hours retrieving the kidney from one donor before putting the organ into its recipient over another 2-1/2 hours. “But it’s more of a theoretical thing, because these donors are very, very committed.”

Saxophonist David S. Ware didn’t want a transplant when his kidneys failed, reports the New York Times.

“I didn’t want someone else’s life force in me,” said Mr. Ware, whose own kidneys started failing 12 years ago. “I couldn’t come to terms with it.”

Considering that his art comes straight out of that life force, it’s understandable. However, the “life” part of life force began to weigh heavily as his health declined. He agreed to try to look for a living donor.

New York jazz critic Steve Holtje gave Ward the ultimate good review when he decided to be evaluated to donate. But the wife of a fan and brief acquaintance who was already well into the evaluation process, Laura Mehr, ended up being a faster match.

By February, Ms. Mehr was staying at the home of Mr. Ware and his wife in Scotch Plains, N.J., as she underwent preliminary testing; in May, the transplant was successfully done. Ms. Mehr stayed in New Jersey for three weeks, with Mr. Ware’s wife looking after both her husband and his kidney donor.

“She doted,” said Ms. Mehr, who added that she had lived through dental procedures that were harder on her than donating the kidney.

Ward can still blow, as the audience (which included Laura Mehr) recently learned.

On the same day I became aware of Paul and Laura Amador, I see this article about their campaign to get California college students to sign up to be organ donors. Paul and Laura donated and received, respectively, kidneys through a donor chain on the day that I donated my kidney, so I have a soft spot for them already.

Plus, good for them, because Laura has her kidney now, but they feel strongly enough about the organ donor shortage that they’re still out there making their corner of the world a better place. That’s love.

“When I talk to people, I find out they all have a family member or friend in need of a transplant,” said a healthy Laura Amador.

Ain’t it the truth. When I started talking about kidney donation, I was surprised to see how many people in my life were touched by this issue.

Be a living donor. There’s nothing to it, and you’ll make your life and at least one more life forever better.

Tish Levee was one of a number of people in her synagogue who were tested to donate a kidney to the father of a fellow congregant. Her column about it is making me well up.

When asked why I was doing this, my reply was, “Why not? HaShem has given me life and health and a spare kidney. The chances I’ll ever need it are remote. There is a person who needs a kidney in order to live. So why shouldn’t I give him one of mine? I can spare it.”

The Jerusalem Talmud tells us that “he who saves a life, it is as if he has saved the whole world.”


Daryl Julich went to New York City to give one of his kidneys to a stranger.

“For me when you give something, things come back to you tenfold,” he said. “It’s like giving birth to a child, but I’m not giving birth to life, I’m giving quality of life to someone. And that’s pretty neat.”

Well, and you gave life. People can’t live indefinitely on dialysis.

As an aside, can I just say again that “altruistic donor” is an insane term for people who donate to strangers? If you donate to your sister, cousin, neighbor or friend, you are pretty darn altruistic.

Anyway, Daryl and his wife went to NYC to help a woman who had a hard time finding a match because of sensitivities in her blood, and they hope that his donation is the start of a long chain of kidney donations. His recipient’s son has now donated to stranger to keep the chain going. Good on you, sir.

Daryl paid his own expenses and took time off work, and maybe that was his only option. But if you’re thinking of being a living donor, you should know that there are grants available that will pay your travel and hotel to donate a kidney. And if your job offers short-term disability, you may qualify for paid time off (I did). Lots of good people out there want to make sure that money isn’t a deterrent.

Anyway, Daryl, it will all come back to you; you’re right. I’m thrilled for you and for the family of the woman you helped.

Bill Hoot, from near my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, heard about living kidney donation and thought it was a great gain for a little risk. He started getting tested, then learned that a family friend needed a kidney. You know the rest.

They matched, it was a great experience and his friend has a new lease on life.

“I thought, ‘Here I am, a healthy guy, and I have the power to help improve someone’s life, to give them maybe another 15 or 20 years of health.’ I was really interested in that idea,” Hoot said.