Finding the gift of life through Facebook
Courtny Gerrish, Stephanie Graham
Courtny Gerrish reportsPhoto: Video by tmj4.com
BROOKFIELD - John Leclaire loves to play his standup bass, which hasn't been easy the past few years. He's playing a different tune these days though--after undergoing successful kidney transplant surgery almost 2 months ago.
"I'm feelin pretty good. Like I said, good days and bad days. Today is a good day," he says.
The 51-year-old's kidneys started failing 10 years ago. He recalls, "My initial fear when I first found out about it, I thought 'Oh my God am I gonna see my kids grow up, and all the typical things.'"
As John's kidney function declined, doctors at Froedtert told him he either needed to either go on dialysis or get a new kidney.
"A live donor is a better thing for you. Dialysis works to keep you alive, but it's a very aggressive treatment, and hard on you, hard on the system," John says.
That's when John's wife Liza got to work--posting a plea to her friends on Facebook.
Liza read us part of the status message she posted, "If anyone feels altruistic, or knows anyone who'd like to save his life, blood type A or blood type O needed. As the transplant coordinator joked, 'God gave us one kidney to use and one to share.'"
The status message worked! Liza's old sorority sister Tobi saw the status message, and contacted Liza to see if she could be John's donor.
"I felt very honored that I might be able to do that for him, so he could continue to be a dad to his children," Tobi explains.
Tobi underwent tests through Froedtert's Transplant Program--and she was a match! She says, "I think everyone has the opportunity, in the course of a lifetime, to save someone's life. And I just have the benefit of knowing who that person is.'
John has an uphill battle as he takes dozens of anti-rejection pills a day, but he's thankful for this new chance at life, and an old friend who gave the greatest gift of all.
"Something like this happens, you realize down deep there are people who are inherently good, and it makes a big difference," John says.
The average prognosis for a living donor recipient is 20 years, but many transplants can last up to 30 years.
Over the past few decades, Froedtert & the Medical College have given more than 4,500 people a new chance at life with its transplant program.