We are fortunate to find ourselves around so many others that have received the gift of life. Andy Bombeck is one of those appreciative individuals who received this special gift.  “One of the best days of my life and one of the worst, involved transplant”, he says.   Andy’s mom inherited Polycystic Kidney Disease from her father and received a kidney transplant when she was 69 years old. After the transplant, she sadly passed away just nine days later of an infection. Andy comes from a family background stricken with PKD. “My younger brother and I both discovered we inherited PKD at a young age.” When Andy was 48 years old, he was told his kidney function was poor and he needed a kidney transplant. At that time, it was his girlfriend Shari, that courageously stepped forward and offered to donate if she was a healthy match. On Aril 11, 2003 the best gift happened, Shari was a match and the surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore was a success. This was one of Andy’s best days. In December of 2003 Andy and Shari were married. One year later, they adopted a 6-month-old boy from Guatemala, named Michael. “I say, I’ve lived two incredible lives, pre and post kidney transplant.”

Andy along with his family have been active in the kidney transplant community. His mother Erma Bombeck, in 1980 helped start the ‘Book and Author Luncheon’ that has raised over $13 million dollars most of which is donated to nonprofits to help raise awareness for kidney disease and the importance of organ donation.  Andy himself, years after his transplant, served on the National Kidney Foundation of Arizona’s board for 8 years. He and Shari participated in the extravagant “Dancing with the Stars” National Kidney Foundation annual fundraiser. It was during his time as a volunteer with Donor Network of Arizona, that Andy met Anne Wylie. Anne must have seen the charismatic and kind personality of Andy and suggested he join the board of the “New Life Society” now called Transplant Community Alliance (TCA). He is currently serving on the TCA Board of Directors. As a Board member he feels its important to assist recipients with pre- and post-transplant issues. Like most transplant recipients, I’m grateful every day due to Shari’s generosity, and feel a need to give back to the transplant community any way I can.” Andy has also been a part of Transplant Team AZ (TTA) since 2006. “Once, while doing blood work, I was approached by Jim Manning, a longtime TTA member who asked if I’d heard of the transplant games. I hadn’t. Jim and I ended up winning the Gold Medal in Men’s doubles tennis! Over the years I’ve become good friends with many TTA members along with members from other teams I look forward to seeing every two years!” The transplant team is comprised of all organ transplant recipients, living donors and donor families. They compete in many different events like bowling, trivia, cornhole, basketball, ballroom dancing, track and field and many more. It’s a time to meet new people, reunite with friends and take time to share wonderful stories. It is also a time to remember those that saved the life of another.

Andy and his family have been a true asset to our transplant community. It was Andy’s mother, Erma that worked hard to encourage living organ donation through the National Kidney Foundation, along with his brother. Andy continues promoting organ donation through the “Schools Program” with Donor Network of Arizona. He speaks at local high schools hoping to inform and educate about the importance of organ donation. Andy says, “I am grateful every day and I continue living everyday like it could be my last!

The TCA board is made up of dedicated, caring and compassionate individuals that work hard to make our organization what it is today.