I’ve been following the story of James Myers since shortly after I went on dialysis in September 2014. Mr. Myers has been on dialysis for four years but late last month he finally got “the call.” The following is an article that came via change.org (written by Jerry Davich and originally published in the Chicago Tribune), an organization through which Mr. Myers has been advocating for legislation in the US to protect living organ donors.
James Myers, 61, heads into surgery April 27 with a thumbs up, flanked by his “sweetheart” Tori Pines, his son, Jim Myers, and his son’s wife, Monica, at Indiana University Health hospital in Indianapolis. (Handout – James Myers)
Crown Point, IN
MAY 7, 2016 — James Myers looked weary but cheerful when he returned home from an Indianapolis hospital with his little bundle of joy.
It weighed a quarter of a pound, and was the size of a fist. It’s name is “Woody.”
“It’s a family name,” said Myers, 61, of Gary.
After nearly four years of waiting and wondering, Myers finally got the call he had been praying for, hoping for, advocating for. It came on April 26.
At 11 a.m. that day, Myers posted on his Facebook page: “I just got THE call. IU says they have a kidney for me!”
This post was dramatically different from hundreds of previous posts over the past few years, many which read like this one from April 18 of this year: “My name is Jim Myers, from Crown Point, IN, and I am an ESRD patient currently on dialysis, awaiting a transplant. I am on the list. If you are interested in becoming a donor…”
I read dozens of those somber posts, each one pleading for a life-saving transplant amid other social media friends who posted about their pets, chronic gripes or daily errands. I always wondered how Myers felt while reading such nonsense, relatively speaking.
“I am a type O blood type,” Myers wrote again and again to friends, followers and strangers. “All medical costs are covered by insurance and incidental costs can be worked out.”
When I first met Myers in 2013, he sat quietly in a large chair inside the Fresenius Medical Center in Crown Point. He read a newspaper while his blood was artificially cleansed of waste by a whirring dialysis machine that beeped every few seconds.
With a blanket draped over his legs and a catheter connected to his chest, Myers sat patiently for hours, as most dialysis patients must do. He visited there three times a week for at least four hours each time to undergo hemodialysis, which replaces the function of his failing kidneys.
Myers suffered from polycystic kidney disease, which took the lives of several family members, including his father, he said. Though Myers was diagnosed in his younger days, his positive lifestyle choices the past three decades only delayed the inevitable.
His genetic fate caught up to him in 2012 and he had been on dialysis ever since. “I have no choice. You either submit to dialysis or you die,” Myers told me that day.
Chronic kidney disease may be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure and other disorders. Early detection and treatment can often keep chronic kidney disease from getting worse. When kidney disease progresses, it may eventually lead to kidney failure, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life.
This was the dilemma Myers faced each day, each week, each month.
He didn’t settle for only waiting and wondering or for posting pleading messages on social media for a life-saving transplant.
Myers became a tireless advocate for kidney donation, organ donation, live donor legislature and anything related to kidney disease.
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