(Kevin is a friend of mine and a lifetime friend of my wife’s family. He lives in Dover but most know him from his job in Portsmouth.)
A MOTHER’S HOPE
Please don’t say to yourself, what a morbid thought, and read no further.
You may already know someone with a failing vital organ. Someone who needs a transplant, and is waiting for a matching kidney, heart or other organ from an accident victim. If a kidney is needed, he or she is undoubtedly undergoing dialysis until a match is found.
Dialysis extends the life of a Type 1 diabetic by 5 years. Kevin is now in his 5th year of dialysis. If a matching kidney is not found very soon, Kevin may not survive.
Kevin was an ordinary, active two-year old, a toddler, when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. For his parents, this was a frightening diagnosis. A nightmare. There is no cure for Type 1 diabetes. What will this dreadful disease do to him? What kind of life will Kevin have? How long will he live?
Questions, which no doctor could answer. Imagine getting a diagnosis like that from your Pediatrician.
We got to know Kevin, when he and his family became our neighbors. Kevin and his sister were about the same age as two of my kids. We became friends.
As time went on, we would go to soccer games and baseball games together. It was during a soccer game I got my first real exposure to Type 1 diabetes. Teresa, Kevin’s mom, rushed over to him and gave him something to eat and drink. She then looked at me and said, I was watching Kevin and he was going into diabetic shock. Teresa knew the signs and acted quickly.
As if one child with this disease wasn’t enough, Kevin’s sister Kim, who is older than Kevin, was also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 10.
As Kevin became very ill with this horrible disease, he went on a transplant list and eventually received a pancreas and kidney at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. There was ONE donor, who had designated his or her organs to save someone else’s live. ONE DONOR.
That was more than 20 years ago.
In the meantime Kim’s pancreas ceased to function and she needed a pancreas transplant.
She too went on a transplant list and got the call from Dartmouth Medical Center. Her pancreas transplant was successful. That was about 5 years ago.
Now, both Kim and Kevin needed a kidney. Teresa was tested to become a donor and was a match for Kim, but not for Kevin. I can’t imagine a more difficult choice for a mother to make, but she was NOT a match for Kevin. The choice was not hers to make. The successful transplant took place at Dartmouth Medical Center, in July of last year. And, by the way, Teresa is doing very well. It is usually a one or two-night stay at the hospital. Teresa wanted to stay 2 nights, so she could be there just a little longer with her daughter. She was back to her normal routine a couple of weeks after the surgery and went back to work. What a wonderful thing she had done for her daughter.
Kevin’s doctors have determined that he will need pre-treatment before the transplant. This pre-surgery treatment doubles the chances of survival. Pre-treatment can happen only when an organ is located and scheduled to be transplanted. And that means locating a living donor.
This is where you come in. Although, the organ donor program can match accident victims with anxious recipients, there is no such method of locating living donors. The primary means of identification matching blood types of living donors is word of mouth.
Since no family members are a match, Kevin waits with hope for a donor. He does his dialysis during the night, three times a week, because he holds down a full time job at The Home Depot in Portsmouth, where he has worked for more than 20 years. Hats off to a company which values employees, and is able to work with Kevin and can be accommodating.
And now, Kevin is waiting for someone who is willing to donate a kidney. The testing is relatively simple: Meet with Kevin at Wentworth Douglass Hospital in Dover (or any other hospital), and get tested. The testing consists of blood tests. These tests are then sent off to a special lab in Boston, where they evaluate compatibility between donor and recipient. All costs are borne by the Kevin’s insurance company and Medicare.
Qualification to become a donor: general good health, and 62 years of age or younger, and above all, have the desire to help save a life.
At the very least become an organ donor after death. Check it off on your driver’s license, and let your family know of your wishes. 90% of people say they support organ donation, but only 30% sign up to be an organ donor.
How often have we all said “thank God my kids are healthy?”
We are not ready to lose a friend, a brother and a son. I know there is someone out there who is willing to give a kidney and to save a life.
Kevin is a real person. His circumstances are real. He is in real need of a kidney. He needs it within this year. If a matching kidney is not found for Kevin, he may not survive.
One mother, my friend Teresa, prays for miracles. She believes in miracles. She believes there is a donor for Kevin.
For more information and answers to questions you might have go to the FB page, established for Kevin: HOPE FOR KEVIN.