What a wonderful 30 years!

By Rick Schwab

January 4th, 1983 to January 4th, 2013. This is the 30 year span that has defined my life as a renal transplant recipient. What a wonderful life it has been.

I am one of nine siblings. 30 years ago, my younger sister, Beth, gave me the gift of life when she donated a kidney to me. For several years after the transplant there where many tests, multiple episodes of rejection, several surgeries and way too many hospital stays to count! Then with many prayers and the help of my wonderful nephrologist…things settled down.

For years I lived believing I would not have a long life. We were told to expect 5 good years, maybe 7 after the transplant. I was 24 years old. But this August, I celebrated my 55th birthday! Most people dread getting old! I am delighted to be 55. Not too long ago, while complaining about taking so many prescriptions, my wife, Amy, quickly told me to stop complaining. Those medications have helped to keep me alive for 30 years. I won't complain anymore. The past 30 years have included work, travel, hobbies, time with family and friends, celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and being able to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes—finding new restaurants.

So what could be more fitting then to celebrate this huge occasion then by traveling to be with Beth, her husband and another sister and brother in law so we can dine in a spectacular restaurant! While we are in Orlando, we will also celebrate another milestone. During the same week, Beth will be celebrating 5 years as a breast cancer survivor. We know we are truly blessed.

This journey began with much hope and many prayers. It also began with three doctors.
One has since died and the other two have retired! I doubt anyone expected me to outlast them.

I prayed for a miracle, Beth was the answer. I prayed to have a chance to survive, I have survived for 30 years. I prayed for many things throughout this journey. I have been given a life I never thought possible. Life is fragile and a true gift.

No one knows that the future holds for me. But I do know this; I have had one wonderful ride so far and am excited to see what is ahead of me. I don't think this miracle is over yet!

Rick's wife, Amy, contributed an article to Chronicles a few years ago. Please click here to read her article about Rick's journey with kidney failure and the amazing kidney donation from his sister, Beth:

Amy also contributed an article about Beth for our Fall 2009 issue. You can read it here.