Saving a Life is Easier Than You Think

08 Nov 2018 Saving a Life is Easier Than You Think

Salazar PackagingOn a personal note…

It is very rare for me to go off topic and write about something that is not packaging related, but a recent personal experience literally changed my life and possibly saved it.

I found out several years ago I had genetic kidney disease. The best my excellent nephrologist could do for me was to help me delay the time when I would most certainly end up on dialysis. Then last April as my kidney function continued to deteriorate, the decision was made for me to begin dialysis. Four hours a day, three times a week of being plugged into a machine that would cleanse my blood and keep me alive. It was effective but not without its own side effects including constant exhaustion and growing depression, realizing that dialysis is not a treatment, but a life sentence.

Almost immediately I started the process of hopefully qualifying for a kidney transplant, but in Illinois the current waiting list is five to seven years, so the outlook was not good, and we were not very optimistic.

A Loving Decision, the Right Team, Answered Prayers  

Salazar PackagingMy wife Lenora decided she was willing to donate one of her kidneys to me. Lenora and I are a perfect match in many ways but unfortunately, not in terms of blood type and other transplant matching requirements. That is when the great team at Christ Advocate Hospital that we were working with made us aware of a young lady from Arizona who was willing and able to donate one of her kidneys to a family friend here in Chicago. Unfortunately, they too were not a good match to each other but by some form of divine miracle, they were both perfect matches to Lenora and me!

On September 11th, all four of us underwent surgery, with Lenora’s kidney going to the local recipient and I received the young lady’s kidney from Arizona. All four surgeries went well, and we are all at various levels of recovery, but both transplanted kidneys are functioning well in their new bodies. Nearly eight weeks after surgery, I can tell you I have not felt this good in over a year.

To learn more about our case and the process, please feel free to read or review the link below.

Chicago Tribune – Daily Southtown

Sharing the Blessing!

The reason that I decided to share this personal information is because of what we discovered through this experience. My wife Lenora and I learned much through the process and sharing an organ you have two of is not nearly as complicated as you may think. Here are a few points we did not know before the transplant:

  1. The donor has ZERO out of pocket costs. Every cost including pre and post-surgery is covered by the recipient’s insurance.
  2. Recovery time for a donor is listed as four to six weeks but my trooper of a wife was back at work within three weeks.
  3. The hospital stay for a donor is usually only one night. The surgery is not as complicated as the recipient’s and does not have the same concerns about infection or rejection.
  4. A donor does not have to be a perfect match to the recipient. Exchanges or swaps like we had are becoming more common place. The internet and the computer age make these lifesaving connections easier than ever before.
  5. As a donor, if you ever develop a kidney problem, you move to the top of any transplant list.
  6. You do not have to have a recipient in mind. If you have a healthy kidney to spare, the transplant team has someone you can help. You can be totally anonymous or as we have, develop a life long connection and friendship.

Most people do not have the opportunity to save a life, and positively impact many lives through the recipient in need. The word hero is overused these days but there is no better way to describe an organ donor, and specifically a kidney donor. The need is great for live altruistic donors and if you are interested, I suggest contacting the transplant team at your local or university hospital. I urge you to at the very least sign the donor card on the back of your driver’s license.

If you have any questions of us we will gladly answer them. You can email us at [email protected]  or [email protected]  You can also call either of us at 630-551-1700.