This is my story, somewhat condensed. When I was about 8 years old I started getting severe back pains, only to discover that one of my kidneys had failed to develop. Shortly thereafter that failed kidney was removed and I lived with one kidney for the next 56 years. 4 years ago I learned that my one kidney was failing, due to an uncommon disease called IGA Nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease. There is no cure for this disease, other than kidney transplant. I was seeing my kidney specialist (nephrologist) in Shakopee, MN, who told me my kidney function was at 5%. Most people start dialysis with a function of 15% or less. The latter part of 2013 I started doing home dialysis treatments. These consisted of 4 half hour treatments each day. Although they were time consuming, they were of great help. I also immediately went on the transplant waiting list, in hopes of getting a new kidney from a donor. My children put out information on social media and also got the local paper to do a story on my condition, which ran in the New Prague Times on November 26, 2015, these efforts were all in hopes to find a person willing to donate a kidney to me.
On February 11, 2016 my prayers were answered when a donor came forward, and was a perfect match. The donor’s name is Ann Sletten. We’ve known the Slettens for years, as our sons graduated from high school together. Ann, her husband Pete, and a friend of mine set up a meeting with my wife Diane and I and I, three days before Valentine’s Day to give me the great news. Ann, in her witty ways, gave me a Valentine’s Day card which read:
“Roses are red, Violets are blue,
God is brilliant so he gave me two.
I only need one, so please work with me,
as I’d like to re-gift you a healthy kidney.”
It also read “I can’t give you my heart, its already taken, but I can give you a kidney.”
Our surgery was scheduled for Leap Day, February 29, 2016 (a day I’ll never forget) and it was a success. Now, a year and a half later, Ann and I are both doing fine. I call Ann my walking angel. Since then, I have been able to reach out to other people in need of transplant and try to give them hope that they too will meet their walking angel.