We recently sat down with Steve Biertz, a Kidney Recipient and Chair for the Cocoa Beach Kidney Walk Committee, to learn more about his personal kidney transplant experience:
“My kidney issues seemed to have started in 1982 when, following a tennis game, my knees swelled up along with my ankles. After seeing my Doctor, he was unsure what exactly was causing the problem but ultimately I was sent to the University Hospital in Iowa City, near where we lived at the time, for a kidney biopsy. With no history of kidney disease in the family, it was a perplexing situation. Once the biopsy was done it was determined that I had focal segmental glomerulosclerosis which is a degenerative disease of the kidneys. This condition ultimately leads to kidney failure.
Over the next 12 years I dealt with the disease by taking various medications. By the end of 1993 my doctors started discussing the need for dialysis as my creatinine had exceeded 8.5. Creatinine is a measurement of how your kidneys are filtering poisons out of your blood. After being placed on the transplant list, I was informed that it could be months or even years before a match could be found given my rare blood type of AB positive.
After 9 months, on a Sunday afternoon, I got the call that changed my life. Six people died in a two car accident in upstate NY and a 17 year old boy in one of the cars, who showed signs of life, was flown to Albany Medical Center but, sadly, was eventually pronounced dead. Upon notification the two remaining siblings were approached about organ donation. After deliberating on their way to the hospital they made the life changing decision to have their brother’s organs donated.
April 17, 1994, the day of their decision, I was informed that I was a good match for the donor and to hurry to the hospital.
That was 23 years ago.
Today the kidney I received continues to perform well with no rejection occurrences.
I am indeed blessed. Not only for the new kidney, but for family and my wife’s support. I truly value and appreciate this gift every day. It has allowed me to live on.”