GOOD NEWS! Mitch received a kidney from Charlie, a living donor, on September 9, 2013. Meredith, reports that Mitch's surgery went well. And, the surgeon said that the kidney looked beautiful! Congratulations, Mitch!
Just after the birth of our first child, Blake, 11 years ago, Mitch was diagnosed with common variable immunodeficiency (CVID). CVID is an immune disorder in which a person does not have antibodies to fight infections. It affects many different organs, including the kidneys. Unknown to us at that time, Mitch's mother had the same disease. She had passed away when Mitch was 10 years old, but we never knew the reason until we retrieved her medical records.
Prior to his diagnosis, Mitch had dealt with bizarre illnesses such as skin cancer, a ruptured ear drum, sinusitis, respiratory illnesses, etc. In July of the year he was diagnosed, he was hospitalized with a resistant, difficult to treat pneumonia. I remember thinking, "Why in the world would he have a serious pneumonia in the middle of the summer?"
Although some patients develop CVID during childhood, its onset usually doesn’t occur until adulthood. For that reason, CVID often goes undiagnosed for many years. During a hospitalization, a savvy pulmonologist reviewed Mitch's case and asked whether he’d ever had his antibody levels checked. Never having suspected such a problem, he hadn’t, so they ran blood tests. Sure enough, Mitch’s level was zero! (Depending on the type of antibody, normal is anywhere from 85 to 375.) Ever since that time, Mitch has been on infusions to replace his antibodies, and he does very well with these treatments.
Four years after the birth of our twins, Hannah and Evan (age 7), Mitch's kidney function started to decline. We were told that in 10-15 years, Mitch would need a transplant. In the hope of preserving his kidney function, Mitch was put on high-dose steroids. Unfortunately, steroids (which suppress the immune system) in an already immune-suppressed patient do not go well together.
In October 2012, Mitch developed a serious pneumonia called Pneumocystis and was admitted to the Deaconess Helath System in Evansville. He was placed on a ventilator and remained there for 2 weeks. Thankfully, with the help of the same pulmonologist who had diagnosed Mitch’s CVID earlier, and an excellent team of medical professionals, Mitch’s lungs improved. His kidneys, however, didn't recover.
Mitch spent 6 weeks at a rehabilitation center learning to walk and function again due to having been bed ridden and dependent on machines for so long. Four days prior to Christmas, Mitch got to come home. As you can imagine, our entire family was ecstatic!
Mitch was placed on the deceased-donor transplant list in May, 2013. He currently does dialysis for 2½ hours, 6 evenings a week. Mitch's wait for a deceased-donor kidney would be about 4 years. There are a multitude of health advantages to living donation. For example, a living-donor kidney lasts about 20 years, whereas a deceased-donor kidney lasts only about 10. In addition, a living donation enable two transplants because it shortens the deceased-donor waiting list, allowing another person to receive a deceased-donor kidney sooner. Thus, we are seeking a living donor.
Unfortunately, I have been ruled out as a donor due to a history of kidney stones. Mitch has Type O blood, but because his transplant center, Indiana University Hospital, participates in paired donation, a person of any blood type can donate. If you are interested in being tested to see whether you are a match, please contact Mitch’s transplant coordinator, Kelly Coffey, at 1-800-382-4602. Or, if you would like to contact me directly, you may do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to follow our journey, please visit our Facebook page: A Kidney for Mitch. If you are unable to donate but would like to help, please share Mitch's story with others. With your help, we can ensure that Mitch will be able to see Hannah, Evan, and Blake graduate . . . go to college . . . and have children. Mitch would so like to be a grandpa some day!
Thank you so much for your support!