Jim’s kidney failure has two primary causes: polycystic kidney disease (PKD), an incurable hereditary condition in which large cysts invade and destroy the kidneys, and exposure to hostile chemical agents during the Vietnam War. While dialysis is keeping Jim alive for the short term, it is only a temporary treatment; it is exceptionally hard on the body and causes additional serious health problems. In fact, the average life span of a person on dialysis is just five years. As you can imagine, both of us are frightened.
Jim is a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel with twenty-four years’ service and a retired professor of ten years at Defense Acquisition University (a Department of Defense training establishment). The latter position required a great deal of travel, which became impossible because of the rigors of dialysis. In addition, severe fatigue sets in after every dialysis session, robbing Jim of the energy to work and perform daily life tasks. As a result, he had little alternative but to retire on disability. It’s been a tremendous disappointment to us that his career was cut. However, with a normally functioning kidney, Jim could return to work as a consultant. So, with typical determination, he has focused on remaining healthy enough to undergo surgery.
Jim has been on dialysis since 2011 and on the waiting list for a deceased-donor kidney since 2010. Because the wait for a kidney in our area is three to five years, he is listed at two hospitals--Massachusetts General in Boston and Fletcher-Allen in Burlington, Vermont--in the hope that this will shorten his wait. (Deceased-donor organs are allocated regionally, not nationally. Thus, listing Jim in more than one region betters his chances of receiving a kidney.) For a multitude of reasons, however, a living-donor kidney is by far Jim's best chance for survival.
Thankfully, he has passed all the testing requirements, and his nephrologist has assured us that he is an excellent candidate for transplant, especially if received from a living donor. Initially, I and four other family members members volunteered to donate but for various reasons were found ineligible. Thus, we are turning to those we do not know in the hope that a kind, generous soul will step forward and give him the Gift of Life.
Jim has Type O blood, but because both hospitals participate in paired donation, a person of any blood type can donate. Medical expenses are covered by our insurance, and one need not be a resident of either state to donate. For those who live far away, programs are available to cover the cost of transportation, lodging, meals, and car rental. If you would like to be tested to see if you are a match, please contact Mass General’s kidney transplant program at 877-644-2860 or Fletcher Allen’s transplant department at 802-847-4774. If you would like to contact Jim or me directly, you may do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for taking the time to read Jim’s story and for considering giving him the most precious gift one can give . . . the Gift of Life. If you are unable to donate but would like to help, please share Jim’s story with others by clicking the icons below. Thanks so much!
Sincerely, Susan Rego
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