Friday, July 3, 2009

A God-Given Opportunity to Donate a Kidney

Hello Friends and Family,
Thanks for being an important part of my life. I felt that I should share with you about my friend Bobby and an opportunity I'm taking to help him. If you would like to pray for Bobby and I, that would be appreciated. The write up below should explain everything:

My best friend, John, and I grew up in Grass Valley going to the same High School and church. He's the kind of friend that's always there to help you move, support your endeavors, or just to stay in contact even when you forget. He got married quickly after High School and had Bobby Frey, his only child. Steph and him raised Bobby in a little house, but with a big focus on God and being in church.

At 2 yrs old he was the youngest to be diagnosed with Alport's Syndrome, a disease that ruins the kidneys and can take his life. For 16 yrs they dealt with the serious effects of kidney disease, including growth suppression, hearing loss, and blood problems. To balance this, John took his family on as many camping, boating, and outdoor vacations he could, wanting to experience the most they could in the time they had together.

The end of 2008, Bobby's kidneys were closer to failing. He would need a transplant or dialysis soon. Dialysis saves lives but limits quality-of-life and reduces life-expectancy. Donor transplant is the best option, with living donation better than deceased. Once the diseased kidney is replaced, the Alport's Syndrome is gone, and the new kidney should perform well his whole life, with the aid of anti-rejection medicine.

However, thousands die each year waiting for a matched kidney. There were no potential donors in John's family. Bobby's grandmother joined a kidney exchange program hoping to trade hers for a matching one. I've always been concerned with Bobby's struggles and praying for him was all I could do. If a match, I felt I might want to give a kidney. I discussed it with Robin and prayed about it. I felt the Lord remind me of His lessons of sacrifice in the Bible, how there is "no greater love than a man lay down his life for a friend". This wasn't "laying down a life" but it was laying down the instinct of keeping everything for myself. The Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37) could have said, "let someone else stop and help", but he took a risk to help the beaten man. I really feel the Lord leading in this.

I discussed being a living donor with family and then had tests done for 3 months to see if I was a good match. My family didn't have kidney disease history and research showed that quality of life is no different for living donors. Furthermore, I spoke to a donor who was an endurance cyclist to make sure, Lord willing, that I could compete at the high Ironman level I once did. It's amazing how well the body does with 1 kidney! In fact, living donors have even a slightly less chance of kidney disease than those with both kidneys.

Bobby graduated from High School and a month later I learned I was a good match! At the same time, Bobby's "levels" were critical. Transplants are best right when kidneys fail (this insures the Alport's Syndrome doesn't come back) but before dialysis starts. The transplant is scheduled for July 10th. My recovery will be about 4-6 weeks and Bobby's quite a bit more difficult.
The California Pacific hospital in San Francisco is one of the best in the nation for successful transplants. The expectation is that Bobby will be better by Fall, in time to start pursuing his goals of continuing education and a job in criminal justice.

I know God has given me this opportunity, has made it be a perfect match, and will also give me everything I need to continue doing everything He wants for the rest of my time on earth. Chances are there are things we will all suffer with the rest of our lives. I'm ready for what that may be, but most likely it won't have anything to do with kidneys.

God Bless,
Troy Soares

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me
heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phil 3:14

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