Organs needed: You could save a life
ART: RENEE TANNER/NEWS-REVIEW (ART: RENEE TANNER/NEWS-REVIEW / April 19, 2013)
Miner-Swartz added that diabetes does not rule out prospective donors. While having diabetes most likely means that patient's kidneys or pancreas will be ruled out, his or her lungs or heart could be healthy enough to save lives.
Over the last decade, nearly 10,000 Michigan patients have received a life-saving organ transplant, and on average, 17 Michigan patients receive an organ transplant each week. There is no age limit for donation and donation doesn't cost the donor a penny.
A rewarding sacrifice
In 2011, Crystal Teall, 40, a mother of three and Alanson graduate, learned that a friend's father, Amnon Bishari, 70, was suffering from kidney failure, brought on by diabetes.
"I had heard so many stories about how this man would give and help complete strangers," Teall, who now lives in Florida, said.
"Because of the family history of diabetes, none of the family members could donate. Other than the diabetes, my recipient was in excellent health."
Teall found out she and Bishari had the same blood type and began researching the risks and recovery process with her three daughters. Together, they all agreed that Teall should find out if she could be the donor. After some tests, it was determined Teall and Bishari were an excellent match.
"I went through the process of a very thorough physical to make sure that I didn't have any health conditions that would put me in jeopardy during the surgery. Once I was cleared, the surgery was scheduled immediately and was performed within a month."
The surgery, which took place on Jan. 11, 2012, was a success. Teall took three weeks off of work to recover, and said after the first couple days, the pain was minimal.
"I was tired and needed small naps for the first six weeks," she said. "My remaining kidney was already giving me more than 70 percent function within the first six months. Now I am at the top of the donor list should something happen and I need a kidney transplant."
Teall did not pay a dime during the process, other than a check-up she needed before the surgery. Bishari's insurance covered his costs.
A year later, Teall's scars are small and barely noticeable. She and Bishari are both enjoying the gift of life.
"The best thing is seeing Amnon regain his natural skin color, be able to go on vacations with his family, see him exercise and just know that he is not ill or fatigued all of the time from dialysis," she said.
At the Stead home, the family's days are filled with doctor's appointments, meetings and home visits.
Mike wears a shock vest that monitors his heart 24/7 and makes sure he remains stable, given that he is at great risk for sudden cardiac arrest.
Tina is on unpaid leave of absence from work since she can't leave him and must take him to appointments.
"Everyday bills keep rolling in," Tina said. "We have applied to the Department of Human Services, Social Security and have visited local food banks and checked for local resources, which at this time of year are not very plentiful unfortunately as so many people are in need."
Mike, who doesn't know if he'll ever be able to work again, also can't drive or exert himself in any strenuous way. He can't even pick up 8-month-old Griffin.