JOLIET – Martin Peto of Joliet believes in angels and miracles.
He is praying God will grant him both.
Peto, who is in stage 4 kidney failure, said his kidneys are working at 17 percent of their normal capacity – not quite low enough for dialysis, but hardly sufficient for him to feel healthy.
And yet, Peto, a 26-year-employee for the Illinois Department of Corrections, continues to work full time.
“I have no choice,” he said. “I have a family to support. I can’t even think about retiring until August, and that would make me 50.”
Peto is worried about the future for his wife, Anne, and their children – Emily Rachel, 11, and Neil Edward, 10 – should anything happen to him.
Doctors feel his only hope is a kidney transplant, Peto said. They told him to expect a five- to six-year wait for a cadaver kidney, and that finding a match from a living donor is more realistic.
So Peto is trying hard to find one.
Anne created a flier detailing the need that the family is distributing: “God gave us two kidneys ... one can be a gift to save another life, please be our angel on earth.” Another friend created a sign for Peto’s car, and the next step is have yard signs made.
Peto’s health challenges began in 2013, Anne said, when he developed a double pulmonary infection. Then he was diagnosed with a genetic heart disorder and underwent a mitral valve repair. And then Peto learned his kidneys were operating at 39 percent.
Testing showed Anne was a good match to donate a kidney and her hopes soared – until it was learned one of the chemotherapy treatments she received when she had breast cancer years ago was incompatible with donating.
“I was so devastated by that,” Anne said.
As excruciatingly fatigued as Peto constantly feels and despite restless sleep, Anne is thankful Peto still works. She’s afraid exhaustion would keep him in bed if he wasn’t employed.
Peto said he is aware a transplant is a mixed blessing, as his health would return but it requires a lifetime of expensive immunosuppressant drugs.
But Peto’s mind doesn’t linger there. His concern is for his family; it’s the energy that drives him.
“I’ve tried to come up with alternate plans if things get really bad,” Peto said.
Mostly, he clings to hope.
“I know Jesus has a plan for me,” Peto said. “I believe this is part of it. I believe doors are being opened.”
Contact Martin and Anne Peto at 815-723-3031 or firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin) or email@example.com (Anne). To contact the living kidney donor coordinator nurses at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, call 708-327-22719 (Joanna) or 708-327-2696 (Lupe).