My name is Tom Lauher and I have Stage 5 Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), formerly known as Renal Failure. A little more than two years ago, an undiagnosed kidney blockage led me to be hospitalized, which then led to the discovery of my CKD. My journey since my diagnosis has been marked by change, both in challenging ways and in unexpectedly positive ones.
Some of these changes are typical of someone battling a major illness; I had to drastically change my diet, learn to manage symptoms and comply with a strict medication schedule. I have had to adjust to major limitations in my capacity to do many things that I love; the most significant example being that my illness forced me to retire prematurely as an environmental professional.
Other changes are more personal. I am lucky to have a wonderful support system of friends and family, though learning how to ask for help was a challenge. I have had to learn how to advocate for myself, and have learned when I need to say "no". I've been a father for over thirty-two years, and I have learned that my adult children can (and have, and will) take wonderful care of me when I need them. I have newfound joy and appreciation for the things I can do; happily, I have slowly resumed umpiring youth softball and baseball, which is a longtime passion of mine.
In some ways, I haven't changed a bit. I am very involved in my church, where I serve on several committees, volunteer as the property manager, and sing in the choir. I text my kids every morning (as I have since my eldest left for college in 2006!). I am a well-known cat whisperer, a quiet jokester, a voracious reader, and a fan of Major League Baseball and public radio. I also know these are things that might someday change, because there is no cure for CKD.
I consider myself lucky that, so far, I have been able to manage my illness through careful adherence to a renal diet and strict use of medications. However, I know it is only a matter of time before further treatment will be needed. That treatment consists of either dialysis or transplant of a donor organ. Dialysis, once begun, must be continued forever, and becomes less and less effective with time. The chances of surviving CKD are far better with a kidney transplant, with the best results achieved through donation from a living donor.
A kidney transplant dramatically increases the life span of a patient by about 10 years and improves their quality of life, allowing them to return to normal activities. In July of 2021, I was added to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Kidney Transplant waiting list. In some ways, this is an exciting development, but the reality is that the wait time for an organ from a deceased donor is several years. Patients who find a living donor do not have to wait.
My eldest has been known to say that, if I could donate a kidney to myself, I would. They are probably right! I have been active on the Bone Marrow Registry as a potential donor for over thirty years. I have donated more than 22.5 gallons of blood to the American Red Cross. I find it easy to give of myself, especially when it can make such a difference to others. And, while difficult, I realize it is now my turn to ask for help. I am asking readers of my story to help by sharing my message with others, letting them know that I am searching for a living donor, and that those interested can confidentially start the donation process by calling the Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center at 1-866-925-3897.
A donor's medical costs are fully covered by the recipient's insurance. My Team of Champions has created a GoFundMe to offset costs a donor might incur for travel, food, and lodging. If you find it in your heart to contribute, the link is: https://gofund.me/e93c7841.
I feel fortunate to have an illness for which an organ donation from a living donor is possible. Please share my story with your family, friends, and acquaintances in the hope that we can locate someone who can give the gift of life!
If you are considering being a living donor please use links below to contact Tom Lauher's Transplant Center. Begin by completing the donor questionnaire
There are currently 120,000 people waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant in the U.S. Of these, 100,000 await kidney transplants.
The median wait time for a kidney transplant is 3-5 years and can vary depending on health, compatibility, and where you live.
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.
Every 14 minutes someone is added to the kidney transplant waitlist.
A kidney from a living donor lasts longer and begins functioning more quickly than a kidney from a deceased donor.
In 1995, kidney donation became minimally invasive with a procedure called laparoscopic nephrectomy, which only requires four small incisions. Hospital stay is typically only 3 days after this operation.
Not blood type compatible with your recipient to be a living donor? Kidney Paired Donation (the “kidney swap” program) enables incompatible candidates with a living donor to receive a kidney from a compatible donor.
Last year, over 700 living donor kidney transplants occurred using Kidney Paired Donation.
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