Painter On A Mission To Match Kidneys For Kids

Marty Mulcahy Editor BAY CITY – Brian Martindale, a Local 2353 union painter,  in 2013 almost certainly saved the  life of a 10-year-old girl who was  in renal failure, by giving her one  of his kidneys.  Motivated to spread the word  about the need for more kidney  donors, last month Martindale  wrapped up a personal campaign  this year, driving to Chicago,  Jackson, Miss., and Virginia to  share his organ transplantation  experience with local media,  advocate for patients who need a  kidney, and explain how potential  donors could take steps to similarly help others.  In 2020, more than 1,700 children received life-saving  kidney transplants. There are  more than 1,100 children on the  national kidney transplant waiting  list, and more than 4,000 children  are on dialysis or being treated for  kidney failure. Incredibly, the girl who now  has one of Brian’s kidneys, Jessica Schwerin, lived only a few  blocks from him in Bay City.  Their chance of a match was onein-100,000.  Since the procedure – both  surgeries were, and continue to be  a success – Martindale has spoken  for Donate Life-Michigan, has  acted as a peer mentor for the  University of Michigan Transplant Center, and in addition to recruiting potential kidney  donors, he is soliciting help anyone who might contribute to his  travels. He heads up the nonprofit “Kidneys for Kids,” and a website  with a Go Fund Me link and more information about donating. The address  is www. Martindale said it”helps  to feel a connection” to the person who needs a kidney, and for him,  reading Jessica’s story in the local newspaper “pulled at his heart.”

The following is Brian’s story in his own words.

“In  the fall of 2012, I read a story about a 10-year-old girl whose mother  was holding up a hand-made sign on a prominent street corner in our town  of Bay City, Michigan to plead to passersby to help her find a kidney  donor for her daughter, Jessica, who was in Stage IV renal failure and  in need of dialysis until she could find a donor with a kidney that  matched.

“Her  frantic act of maternal love and human desperation was a poignant  example of the struggle that some parents go through when their children  suffer from organ failure and are faced with limited options to  survive. Jessica’s mother was willing to do anything she could to find a  donor to save her daughter’s life.

“My  heart was very moved by her daughter’s challenge and I wanted to help  so I contacted the University of Michigan Transplant Center, where she  was a patient, to get tested to determine if I would be a suitable  donor. As it turned out, I was a perfect one-in-a-100,000 match. Then,  on Jan. 11, 2013, I became a kidney donor for my now decade-long friend.  Jessica Schwerin. who I later learned lived only four blocks from me in  Bay City.

Imagine the odds of that.

“Both  surgeries were a complete success. Then two days following our  surgeries, I was able to visit Jessica. I was wheeled over to see her at  C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. The tiny, ghostly white  little child that I had ridden with to the hospital just two days  earlier was suddenly bright pink in color, and healthy looking. She  wasn’t pale anymore, and she was smiling in  her  sleep. I was deeply touched, and after that overwhelming emotional  experience, I somehow knew that I’d be very active in some capacity with  living kidney donation efforts for the rest of my life.

“Days  later I began reflecting on the shared journey that Jessica and I had  just gone through. And while she was overjoyed by the fact that she was  now going to be a healthy young girl and be able to live a normal life,  for me it was something equally profound. I had not only saved a young  girl’s life, but a living part of me now existed in the bodv of another  human being. The thought of that was both exhilarating and overwhelming.  I will literally be a part of her for the rest of her life.

“I  can’t thank the remarkable medical transplant team at The University of  Michigan Transplant Center enough for their life-saving skills. Their  special talents helped bond two strangers together as life-long friends.

“I  am a living example. I can still do the same things with one kidney as I  did with two. Your life will not change. If you are a healthy adult  with normal kidney function, and you give away or donate your spare  kidney, your life will not change. The functions of your body will not  change. You can save a life even if you don’t meet the person who  receives it.” said Martindale.

He  said 15 mothers in 15 different states have asked him to visit and do  media events to advocate for kidney transplantation for their children,  which is part of his plans for next year.

“Hopefully  this article will get the transplantation issue in front out my fellow  union members, and maybe some will be motivated to help me make this journey for kids,” Martindale  said.

To get more information about donating visit the Kidneys for Kids website at www.kfork. org.

#kidneysforkids #shareyourspare #donatelife #kidneytransplant #brianmartindale #jessicaschwerin #csmott #michigan #puremichigan

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