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Kidney donation: A life-saving Christmas gift money can't buy

Kidney donation: A life-saving Christmas gift money can't buy

In this season of gift-giving, there are some gifts that money can’t buy. Some of the most priceless gifts are those we give of our time or our talents . . . but what about a gift that is truly life-saving and can forever change someone’s life? What about giving the gift of a kidney?

That is what Eric Powell, husband of Krystal Powell, Respiratory Therapist at Methodist Health, will experience this Christmas as he recovers from a kidney transplant performed on December 7 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

Eric was diagnosed six years ago with IgA nephropathy, an autoimmune disease causing inflammation that damages kidney tissues. A year ago, his condition began to worsen and he went into kidney failure and began daily peritoneal dialysis. “It was a nine hour process that he hooked himself up to at home,” Krystal said, “which allowed him to continue his job at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana in Princeton, IN.”

It was then that the Powells were told Eric’s only chance for a normal life would be through a kidney transplant. After family members and friends were tested without finding a match, efforts began to expand the search beyond their circle of family and friends.

That’s where Andy Roberts, also a Respiratory Therapist at Methodist Health, enters the picture. “I heard friends in the break room at work talking about him being really sick and how he was doing worse and worse. I knew they had an eight-year-old son, and learned that Eric had no energy to do things with him,” he said. “I have sons of my own and kept thinking, that little boy needs his dad.”

Even though he didn’t personally know Eric and only knew Krystal as a co-worker, he decided to get tested. “At the time,” Andy continued, “I didn’t even know my blood type, so when I got the call I was a match, I was surprised.” Not only did their blood type match, but other titer tests showed additional compatibility, decreasing the likelihood of organ rejection.

Andy and Eric didn’t meet until two weeks before the transplant when they went to Vanderbilt for pre-op testing, but there is now a bond between them and their families that will never be broken.

“Andy gave me my life back,” Eric said. “Ten days out from the surgery, I was back on a normal diet and, besides being sore from a belly full of staples, I’m feeling good — so much better than before.”

Eric’s wife, Krystal, added, “He was down to 8% kidney function before the surgery and it had gone up to 35% before his release. The new kidney began working, producing urine, right away. It was a true Christmas miracle!”

Andy encourages everyone to consider being an organ donor, he admits until this situation presented itself, becoming a live donor of a kidney hadn’t crossed his mind. “It was definitely a God thing,” he said.

Photo 1 Caption:
Kidney donor Andy Roberts, Respiratory Therapist at Methodist Health, is pictured with grateful recipient Eric Powell. Andy holds a stuffed kidney, a gift from Eric's eight-year-old son, Kaden.

Photo Caption 2:
Andy Roberts and his wife, Bobbi, are pictured with Eric Powell and his wife Krystal.

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For questions regarding this press release, please contact Brandi L. Schwartz at 270-831-7836 or bschwartz@methodisthospital.net.