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People

Joliet area donors encourage living kidney donations

Three living kidney donors share their experiences

JOLIET – Martin Peto of Joliet has found a potential living kidney donor.

Initial testing confirmed a match. Peto is raising money to bring her to the Joliet area to complete two more days of advanced testing – and then a second trip to donate if that is successful.

Peto, who plans to retire at the end of September from the Illinois Department of Corrections, recently bought a small house. It's been a rough road, but Peto is thankful for the "angels" he met along the way – the ones who shared his flier and prayed for him.

"I have grown in faith in the Lord and have put these issues in his hands," Peto said. "As a man, I'm used to being proactive and not reactive, which is silly because it's the Lord controlling everything. It's a huge, life-changing experience, especially when you're facing a type of treatment you need to stay alive."

Similar angels live in the Joliet area, including a 31-year-old Coal City man who has experienced the joy of donating, the low of kidney failure, the thankfulness of receiving a kidney and the pain of rejection.

Here are their stories.

Rob Hicks

At Easter dinner 2005, Rob Hicks of Coal City, then 21, learned that his mother’s aunt by marriage needed a kidney transplant. The aunt had received dialysis for 10 years, so the news was not a surprise. Without hesitation, Hicks, a known practical joker said, “I’ll do it.”

Hicks said the other guests immediately chastised him with, “You can’t say stuff like that.”

But Hicks was serous and repeated, “I’ll donate to her.”

He underwent four months of testing and learned he was a perfect match. Hicks said donating a kidney was similar to receiving one, which he did on July 29. Both procedures included laproscopic robotic surgery, a 5-inch incision, and lots of abdominal pain.

He never regretted donating.

“I recovered and went on with my life,” Hicks said.

In 2009, Hicks began experiencing headaches, which he treated with ibuprofen. Hicks did not realize high blood pressure was causing the headaches until he had a physical for a new job. He thought he had migraines. It never occurred to him at the time to see a doctor.

“I was a single guy living by myself. I worked a 12-hour shift, six days a week,” Hicks said.

After the diagnosis, Hicks took blood pressure medicine. He married Alyssa Hicks. All seemed well for a couple of years, until one day when Hicks had no strength to get out of bed. He called his doctor.

“I went and saw him that day,” Hicks said. “He did a couple of urine and blood tests and said, ‘You have kidney disease.’ I said, ‘Well, how do we treat it?’ And he said, ‘That’s the thing. There’s no treatment.’”

Hicks learned kidney disease has five stages and he was entering stage four. Hicks followed the diet recommendations: eliminate meat, and reduce his protein and potassium intake. After four years, Hicks needed dialysis and was added to the transplant list.

“People were scaring me,” Hicks said. “They said it was a five to seven year wait. But 90 days after starting dialysis, I got a kidney. The only reason I got one was so fast was because I [had] donated.”

But two days after receiving the transplant, Hicks’ kidney was still not performing well. He stayed in the hospital for a total of seven days and came home Aug. 5 with instructions to return to the clinic the following Monday to have his blood drawn.

The results were poor. Hicks was readmitted for dialysis and exploratory surgery, which included a kidney biopsy. He also had pain in his right leg, which doctors had told him was caused by nerve pain.

They were wrong.

“The kidney had clotted and was causing lack of blood flow to my right leg,” Hicks said. “It had adhered to part of my abdominal wall and part of my bladder. The kidney was not functioning at all. It was completely dead.”

Hicks’ new kidney was removed the next day. He is back on dialysis and inactive on the transplant list; he hopes to be medically cleared for active status in eight weeks.

Hicks said he will only accept a cadaver kidney. The one that failed came from a 13-year-old boy who died. Hicks said he prefers the living donation to go to someone who has waited a long time to receive a kidney.

Even though Hicks is now on disability, he still has no regrets about donating.

“I totally encourage kidney donation,” Hicks said.

Laura Simpson

At the end of July 2009, Laura Simpson, now 54, of Lockport heard about a man who received a cadaver pancreas and kidney. The kidney was not healthy, Simpson said, and had to be removed.

“They had told him to get his affairs in order,” Simpson said. “He would probably not live past Thanksgiving.”

Simpson’s father, who had been a doctor in Michigan for more than 50 years and died in 2008, always stressed the adaptability of the human body, its ability to live with one kidney, that live donors were the best donors and never be afraid to donate.

Simpson decided to donate to this man she had never met.

“I figured that was the best thing I could do to honor my dad,” Simpson said.

Simpson underwent laboratory testing and a full body scan, then obtained a full medical history and submitted medical records.

“They want to make sure you are healthy enough, that they will do you no harm,” Simpson said.

Before the surgery was scheduled, Simpson met the man and his wife. Simpson never wavered in her decision to donate.

“I had an opportunity to save someone’s life,” Simpson said. “I just don’t get that opportunity very often.”

Simpson had her kidney removed Oct. 28, 2009. She had her own surgical team in one building; the recipient had his team in another building. The separation keeps each team working objectively, Simpson explained.

But during their recovery, Simpson said she and the man had rooms near each other.

“There is a certain sense of camaraderie you develop,” Simpson said.

The recipient’s insurance pays for any cost associated with the transplant, Simpson said. Recovery was easy; Simpson was back to work in six days. Her incision was small and didn't leave a scar. In December, Simpson and her husband went to dinner with the man and his wife.

Simpson would donate again.

“There is nothing else I’ve done in life that felt as good as that,” Simpson said.

Walt Myros

In July 2012, Walt Myros, formerly of New Lenox and now of Naperville, said his wife, Rose Myros, became ill. She went into kidney failure in 2009 and began dialysis in 2010. Myros said he investigated the possibility of donating his kidney to her and learned he wasn’t eligible.

“I was told that if I donate mine to whoever, they would probably find a match for her and get her taken care of,” Myros said. “At the time, all I cared about was helping my wife. I didn’t care who got my kidney. After the donation, it completely opened my eyes to what had happened. It was quite an experience.”

Myros said his wife insisted he meet his recipient, which he did. Even though the recipient still had her staples in, Myros said she greeted him with a big bear hug and these words: “I didn’t think I’d see my son graduate from high school, and now I’ll be at his wedding.”

“It’s just words I’ll never forget,” Myros said. “I truly helped another person.”

Myros said he’s had no loss of health or function because of his donation. His wife takes her anti-rejection pills and one would “never know she’d been sick.”

Donating is a blessing, Myros said.

“Someone else got to live,” Myros said. “It was a tremendous experience.”

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

KNOW MORE

According to the National Kidney Foundation

• There are 121,678 people waiting for life-saving organ transplants in the U.S. Of these, 100,791 await kidney transplants (As of Jan. 11, 2016).

According to the National Kidney Foundation:

• The median wait time for an individual’s first kidney transplant is 3.6 years and can vary depending on health, compatibility and availability of organs.

• In 2014, 17,107 kidney transplants took place in the U.S. Of these, 11,570 came from deceased donors and 5,537 came from living donors.

On average:

• More than 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney waiting list each month.

Thirteen people die each day while waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant.

• Every 14 minutes someone is added to the kidney transplant list.

• In 2014, 4,761 patients died while waiting for a kidney transplant. An additional 3,668 people became too sick to receive a kidney transplant.

For more information, visit www.kidney.org

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

HOW TO DONATE

Contact the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois at 312-321-1500, 800-9-KIDNEY, kidney@nkfi.org or visit the foundation's website at http://shawurl.com/2svf

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

HOW TO HELP

Donate to Rob Hicks' family at www.gofundme.com/xeytp6gc

Martin Peto's "Find A Kidney for Martin Peto" Facebook page has links to many individuals who also need kidneys.

Contact Martin and Anne Peto at 815-723-3031 or peto300@comcast.net (Martin Peto) or mwernep@yahoo.com (Anne Peto).

JOLIET – Martin Peto of Joliet has found a potential living kidney donor.

Initial testing confirmed a match. Peto is raising money to bring her to the Joliet area to complete two more days of advanced testing – and then a second trip to donate if that is successful.

Peto, who plans to retire at the end of September from the Illinois Department of Corrections, recently bought a small house. It's been a rough road, but Peto is thankful for the "angels" he met along the way – the ones who shared his flier and prayed for him.

"I have grown in faith in the Lord and have put these issues in his hands," Peto said. "As a man, I'm used to being proactive and not reactive, which is silly because it's the Lord controlling everything. It's a huge, life-changing experience, especially when you're facing a type of treatment you need to stay alive."

Similar angels live in the Joliet area, including a 31-year-old Coal City man who has experienced the joy of donating, the low of kidney failure, the thankfulness of receiving a kidney and the pain of rejection.

Here are their stories.

Rob Hicks

At Easter dinner 2005, Rob Hicks of Coal City, then 21, learned that his mother’s aunt by marriage needed a kidney transplant. The aunt had received dialysis for 10 years, so the news was not a surprise. Without hesitation, Hicks, a known practical joker said, “I’ll do it.”

Hicks said the other guests immediately chastised him with, “You can’t say stuff like that.”

But Hicks was serous and repeated, “I’ll donate to her.”

He underwent four months of testing and learned he was a perfect match. Hicks said donating a kidney was similar to receiving one, which he did on July 29. Both procedures included laproscopic robotic surgery, a 5-inch incision, and lots of abdominal pain.

He never regretted donating.

“I recovered and went on with my life,” Hicks said.

In 2009, Hicks began experiencing headaches, which he treated with ibuprofen. Hicks did not realize high blood pressure was causing the headaches until he had a physical for a new job. He thought he had migraines. It never occurred to him at the time to see a doctor.

“I was a single guy living by myself. I worked a 12-hour shift, six days a week,” Hicks said.

After the diagnosis, Hicks took blood pressure medicine. He married Alyssa Hicks. All seemed well for a couple of years, until one day when Hicks had no strength to get out of bed. He called his doctor.

“I went and saw him that day,” Hicks said. “He did a couple of urine and blood tests and said, ‘You have kidney disease.’ I said, ‘Well, how do we treat it?’ And he said, ‘That’s the thing. There’s no treatment.’”

Hicks learned kidney disease has five stages and he was entering stage four. Hicks followed the diet recommendations: eliminate meat, and reduce his protein and potassium intake. After four years, Hicks needed dialysis and was added to the transplant list.

“People were scaring me,” Hicks said. “They said it was a five to seven year wait. But 90 days after starting dialysis, I got a kidney. The only reason I got one was so fast was because I [had] donated.”

But two days after receiving the transplant, Hicks’ kidney was still not performing well. He stayed in the hospital for a total of seven days and came home Aug. 5 with instructions to return to the clinic the following Monday to have his blood drawn.

The results were poor. Hicks was readmitted for dialysis and exploratory surgery, which included a kidney biopsy. He also had pain in his right leg, which doctors had told him was caused by nerve pain.

They were wrong.

“The kidney had clotted and was causing lack of blood flow to my right leg,” Hicks said. “It had adhered to part of my abdominal wall and part of my bladder. The kidney was not functioning at all. It was completely dead.”

Hicks’ new kidney was removed the next day. He is back on dialysis and inactive on the transplant list; he hopes to be medically cleared for active status in eight weeks.

Hicks said he will only accept a cadaver kidney. The one that failed came from a 13-year-old boy who died. Hicks said he prefers the living donation to go to someone who has waited a long time to receive a kidney.

Even though Hicks is now on disability, he still has no regrets about donating.

“I totally encourage kidney donation,” Hicks said.

Laura Simpson

At the end of July 2009, Laura Simpson, now 54, of Lockport heard about a man who received a cadaver pancreas and kidney. The kidney was not healthy, Simpson said, and had to be removed.

“They had told him to get his affairs in order,” Simpson said. “He would probably not live past Thanksgiving.”

Simpson’s father, who had been a doctor in Michigan for more than 50 years and died in 2008, always stressed the adaptability of the human body, its ability to live with one kidney, that live donors were the best donors and never be afraid to donate.

Simpson decided to donate to this man she had never met.

“I figured that was the best thing I could do to honor my dad,” Simpson said.

Simpson underwent laboratory testing and a full body scan, then obtained a full medical history and submitted medical records.

“They want to make sure you are healthy enough, that they will do you no harm,” Simpson said.

Before the surgery was scheduled, Simpson met the man and his wife. Simpson never wavered in her decision to donate.

“I had an opportunity to save someone’s life,” Simpson said. “I just don’t get that opportunity very often.”

Simpson had her kidney removed Oct. 28, 2009. She had her own surgical team in one building; the recipient had his team in another building. The separation keeps each team working objectively, Simpson explained.

But during their recovery, Simpson said she and the man had rooms near each other.

“There is a certain sense of camaraderie you develop,” Simpson said.

The recipient’s insurance pays for any cost associated with the transplant, Simpson said. Recovery was easy; Simpson was back to work in six days. Her incision was small and didn't leave a scar. In December, Simpson and her husband went to dinner with the man and his wife.

Simpson would donate again.

“There is nothing else I’ve done in life that felt as good as that,” Simpson said.

Walt Myros

In July 2012, Walt Myros, formerly of New Lenox and now of Naperville, said his wife, Rose Myros, became ill. She went into kidney failure in 2009 and began dialysis in 2010. Myros said he investigated the possibility of donating his kidney to her and learned he wasn’t eligible.

“I was told that if I donate mine to whoever, they would probably find a match for her and get her taken care of,” Myros said. “At the time, all I cared about was helping my wife. I didn’t care who got my kidney. After the donation, it completely opened my eyes to what had happened. It was quite an experience.”

Myros said his wife insisted he meet his recipient, which he did. Even though the recipient still had her staples in, Myros said she greeted him with a big bear hug and these words: “I didn’t think I’d see my son graduate from high school, and now I’ll be at his wedding.”

“It’s just words I’ll never forget,” Myros said. “I truly helped another person.”

Myros said he’s had no loss of health or function because of his donation. His wife takes her anti-rejection pills and one would “never know she’d been sick.”

Donating is a blessing, Myros said.

“Someone else got to live,” Myros said. “It was a tremendous experience.”

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

KNOW MORE

According to the National Kidney Foundation

• There are 121,678 people waiting for life-saving organ transplants in the U.S. Of these, 100,791 await kidney transplants (As of Jan. 11, 2016).

According to the National Kidney Foundation:

• The median wait time for an individual’s first kidney transplant is 3.6 years and can vary depending on health, compatibility and availability of organs.

• In 2014, 17,107 kidney transplants took place in the U.S. Of these, 11,570 came from deceased donors and 5,537 came from living donors.

On average:

• More than 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney waiting list each month.

Thirteen people die each day while waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant.

• Every 14 minutes someone is added to the kidney transplant list.

• In 2014, 4,761 patients died while waiting for a kidney transplant. An additional 3,668 people became too sick to receive a kidney transplant.

For more information, visit www.kidney.org

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

HOW TO DONATE

Contact the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois at 312-321-1500, 800-9-KIDNEY, kidney@nkfi.org or visit the foundation's website at http://shawurl.com/2svf

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

HOW TO HELP

Donate to Rob Hicks' family at www.gofundme.com/xeytp6gc

Martin Peto's "Find A Kidney for Martin Peto" Facebook page has links to many individuals who also need kidneys.

Contact Martin and Anne Peto at 815-723-3031 or peto300@comcast.net (Martin Peto) or mwernep@yahoo.com (Anne Peto).

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