KIDNEY, TRANSPLANT, PKD, INSPIRATIONAL STORIES
We are very proud to feature our very own Transplant Community Alliance board member and Team Transplant Arizona member, Andy Bombeck. He started life in Dayton, Ohio with a typical childhood, a famous mother and an inherited case of Polycystic Kidney Disease (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/polycystic-kidney-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20352820). His grandfather was also diagnosed with PKD and passed away when Andy was 9 years old. When he found out that both he and his brother had inherited PKD he had an awareness of how bad things could get. He was diagnosed in high school after cysts were discovered in an ultrasound. He didn’t feel pain before or even after diagnosis because PKD often doesn’t show any symptoms at all.
He remembers his mom, author Erma Bombeck, being on the waiting list for 5 years and doing dialysis while waiting for her kidney transplant. When she did get her transplant she had passed away within the month. This was tragic for him, especially knowing he had the same inherited disease. Thankfully now survival statistics are much better. Survival rates with living transplants are incredibly promising.
Andy found his PKD was mostly benign until he was 48 years old and he found that he had severe itching on his arms. He didn’t think it was related to his kidney function. He went to his dermatologist and told them about the itching which resulted in a blood test and that showed his kidneys were declining. After some doctor visits and labs, it was confirmed kidney damage that would require a transplant. Andy had hoped he had a few more years to go before things got bad because his mother passed away at 69.
After being referred to a nephrologist in 2003, he was told his kidneys were twice as bad as his mother’s at his age of 48. They were beginning to do more living donations at this time. Living donations have been shown to have better outcomes post-transplant. The current process only allows one person to be tested at a time as a potential donor. Many of his friends offered to be tested. His girlfriend is one of the people that offered to donate. She is a type O and Andy is a type B blood type that is compatible and luckily she was one of the first tested. It was a match!
Andy and his girlfriend went to John Hopkins to participate in the new laparoscopic surgeries for kidney removal and transplant. Andy was intrigued by the new procedure and shortened recovery time. April 11, 2003, they flew to Baltimore for the operation which was an amazing success. They got an apartment for post-transplant recovery. They both healed as donor and recipient together. Because of the laparoscopic technique, the healing time was much quicker and the scars much less noticeable. After the transplant, he had so much energy and felt like a completely different person.
Andy’s first memories post-transplant was that of having boundless energy. He said that pre-transplant you slowly lose endurance and don’t realize it until after you have your transplant and are at full capacity again. Six months after the transplant, Andy and his girlfriend Sheri ended up getting married in December. A year after their marriage they adopted a 6-month-old baby, Micheal, who is now 13. This second life, with his own family, he truly considers a gift. Truly a happy ending for his story.
Today, Andy has a very active lifestyle. He loves to travel. He was able to hike most of Mt Kilimanjaro post-transplant. Andy is an avid hiker and hiked part of the Appalachian Trail last summer. He plays guitar at Saint Vincent De Paul. He volunteers with Donor Network, Children’s Miracle Network, Transplant Community Alliance and is active with Transplant Team Arizona.
Andy encourages living your life to it’s fullest because every moment is a gift.