A few weeks ago my wife and I experienced something we never expected. After over a year and a half of preparation and testing, our son did a very noble deed – he donated a kidney to a friend. Yikes!
I know this occurs frequently these days, but as a father I was extremely nervous as you can imagine. More nervous that my son even appeared to be on the day of the surgery.
Let’s go back a year and a half or more. Our son has an old high school buddy (we’ll keep his name anonymous and call him Buddy), and a guy who was in his wedding that had a genetic familial kidney condition called polycystic kidney disease that ultimately leads to kidney failure.
Buddy reached out to my son Drew back in mid to late 2017 about the need for a kidney transplant. His 2 siblings have had a transplant and his father died of kidney failure. Drew agreed to go through the testing needed to see if he was a match. When he told us what he was going to do, you can only imagine the feelings a parent would go through – disbelief, nervousness, uncertainty, fear – you name it, we had it.
Drew is an athlete – skier, hunter, golfer, softball player – and has no medical conditions. I guess we never thought he’d be a match, I mean how often does that occur? He had to travel locally and long distance in Colorado to be tested over and over. As it turns out, Drew and another guy were perfect matches, but there were other health issues with the other guy.
In the spring of 2018 Drew informed us that he would be traveling from Crested Butte Colorado to Indianapolis for the surgery. He didn’t know exactly when, but it was being scheduled. Weeks went by without a confirmed date, only to be told that Buddy’s condition wasn’t bad enough to have the surgery.
Consider this – this is an inevitable surgical procedure. It was going to occur. Why would things be dragged out longer than needed because his condition wasn’t bad enough? His kidneys were only functioning at about 20% at that time. How bad do they need to be?
As it turns out, the insurer – Anthem – wanted to wait and wait until Buddy’s condition got to the verge of dialysis before they would pay for the surgery. Oh by the way, what if Drew go hit by a bus? Where is the donor going to come from now and how long would it be delayed then? Would Buddy’s condition go ‘south’ in the meantime? Why would they want Buddy’s condition to be so bad before they would pay? You would think that they would want his condition to be better not worse when they perform the surgery, so that recovery would be better.
To make matters even more frustrating, we couldn’t get any information from Anthem about what they were going to pay for Drew’s expenses – the DONOR! His flight, his meals, his rooms while he recuperated – it was as if it was their first rodeo. We couldn’t get any information from Anthem, from the Hospital, from Buddy’s employer’s policy (Anthem), from the social worker – no one! In fact, a week before the surgery in Indy, our questions resulted in one of the nurses stating that Drew could have the surgery in Denver so that he would be closer to home and didn’t need to worry about any high costs. WHAT! Where did this curve-ball come from? What hospital? What surgeon? What’s their track record?
At the end of the day, everything went according to plan. Everything turned out fine for Drew and Buddy. In fact, Buddy said within hours after the surgery that he could already feel the difference. He had felt so bad for so long that now he felt like his body was running at 90 miles an hour. Wow!
I am very proud of the selfless act my son did to help friend. I get tearful just talking about it. He’s slowly recovering but doing fine and Buddy has a new life.