Bowling Green man in search of kidney donor, raises awareness about organ donation
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - A Bowling Green man is searching for a living kidney, while also raising awareness about the importance of becoming an organ donor.
“I would like to go back to work,” said Robert Creek. “If my kids have any grandchildren, I would like to be around for that.”
Seventeen people die each day waiting for a life-saving organ donation, according to OrganDonor.Gov.
The average wait time for a kidney donation specifically is three to five years, according to kindey.org.
The wishes of Creek are reflective of any active, working family man; but perhaps these standard life desires are a bit more meaningful after a routine blood work in 2019.
“He said, ‘you have early stages of kidney failure,’” the doctor told Creek.
“I wanted to still play golf, I still wanted to be active, I still wanted to run, I still wanted to do what I’ve done for 40-something years,” Creek said.
After an emergency room visit, a week-long hospital stay and surgery, Creek began routine dialysis three days a week.
“Then my life really changed forever. It just knocks you out. The dialysis has made me feel better. But dialysis is not a cure,” he said.
The best cure for Creek, and really any patient with kidney failure, is a living kidney donation.
“A living donor helps him get a transplant sooner, it cuts out the wait time. It gives him a longer life expectancy after receiving a new kidney,” said Amy Creek, Rob’s wife.
Soon after his diagnosis, Amy diligently researched the topic of organ donation.
She’s raising awareness not just for the importance of organ donation but specifically, the National Kidney Registry’s Paired Exchange program.
“You might be a friend of Rob’s or someone that knows them, and you want to donate a kidney to him, but you’re incompatible. Your kidney doesn’t match his, that’s okay, you can still donate and it will benefit Rob, because you donate your kidney to someone that it matches,” said Amy. “The registry finds a kidney that is compatible for him. So he gets a kidney and someone else gets a kidney. So you don’t have to be the same blood type. You don’t have to be an exact match to be a living donor.”
In Kentucky, around 1,000 people are on the list waiting for a life-saving organ donation. Over 100,000 people nationwide are waiting for an organ.
“Every year, we have just about 31,000 transplants to take place. So there is a huge gap between the available organs and the people that need them. And the way that we help supplement that gap is through live donation,” said Kim Rallis, Executive Director of the Transplant Program at UofL Health – Jewish Hospital.
After a 25-year career in organ transplant donation, Rallis says she’s seen and heard a variety of stories whether it be parents donating living organs to their children or strangers taking that chance because they felt called.
“The motivation for live donation is almost always personal. There’s some deeper ‘call to mission’ that these people feel to be able to save a life,” said Rallis. “And sometimes they can’t always save the life that they intended. I’ve had situations where children want to be a donor for their parent, and for whatever reason, the parent, you know, dies waiting or we can’t work them up soon enough. And yet that drive to save somebody’s life never goes away for those live donors.”
Many would say organ donation is the most selfless act one could perform, as it goes even beyond just saving one person’s life as it can leave an impact for generations to come.
“We have a child with autism, and he’s never really going to be able to live on his own. So you have to think about down the road and what we need to do now to make things stable for him. So when one of us gets sick, it’s important that we get better,” said Amy.
Creek was accepted as a transplant candidate by the University of Louisville Health- Jewish Hospital Transplant Patient Selection Committee in October 2022. He’s waiting to see if he can get on Vanderbilt’s list.
The Creek’s have created a website with more information on Rob’s journey and details on organ donation. You can visit that here.
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