I was found to have a kidney disease called Alports Syndrome. It is typically associated with bilateral nerve deafness. I did not lose kidney function until I was 18 and in my first year of college. I was relatively healthy except for my kidney failure. I was active in athletics in high school and had maintained my fitness until my kidney function deteriorated to the point I was unable to continue heavy physical exertion. I was on renal hemodialysis for approximately 4 months prior to my first transplant.
I was transplanted initially in the summer of 1980 at age 19. This transplant rejected and failed after only three months. Six months later, I had my second transplant and it has been functioning well for over 30 years. With my second transplant, I have been relatively free of any complications except for the various side effects of the anti-rejection medication.
Obviously the transplant allowed me to no longer have to do dialysis which was a three-day-a-week, four-hour treatment. Dialysis was also very hard on my body and I also had to be on a very strict diet. The transplant truly allowed me to live a relatively normal life except for the daily regimen of medicine.
My transplant has allowed me to do so many things that I would have been unable to do if I was on hemodialysis. I have lived and traveled across the US with my work, I have had the great joy of meeting and marrying my wonderful wife Susan and adopting seven children, six of those internationally. I have traveled to Romania, India and Ethiopia and experienced and seen things that have truly changed my life in so many positive ways.
I have not met my donor family. If I do, I would tell them that their gift of grace goes so far beyond the recipient. In my case it has reached across the globe and will transcend generations through my children. I would tell them that it is truly the most wonderful gift you can give and will change a person's life forever in such a positive way.
I think the whole mindset of transplantation has made tremendous strides over the years and it is a widely accepted method of medical care. Potential donors can rest assured that their medical care will never be compromised and they will be treated with the utmost dignity. I truly believe it is the responsibility of every transplant recipient to strive every day to earn the gift of grace which we have received. Not out of obligation, because grace by its very nature can never be paid back, but out of gratitude. We must live our life with meaning and desire, because when you do the gift of life comes full circle, for your life becomes a gift to others.