This story has a happy ending, but a tough beginning.
Rick Herlacher of Rockford, Michigan suffered with a kidney disease that was discovered in 2001. He struggled through dialysis three times a week for four hours at a time and went through five surgeries within 12 weeks last year. It was a constant battle to live.
The continued search for a transplant donor finally came to an end. Family members didn’t work out–a total stranger did.
Enter Marci Prince from Hastings, Michigan. She saved Rick’s life by donating a kidney.
“I always wanted to be a donor and I just decided to go for it. I feel blessed to be able to do this,” she explained during a recent interview with WKTV Community Media.
Her selfless, courageous act of wanting to donate her kidney was nothing short of remarkable.
But what are the chances of a total stranger being a perfect match?
“This was a match beyond a match–one in a million,” Rick explained emotionally.
And so the process began. 26 tubes of blood, continual testing at St. Mary’s Transplant Center, and the surgery itself. Marci, who had been a smoker for 30 years, quit cold turkey when she decided to be a donor. The process involves major surgery and both were in the hospital for 4-5 days.
Rick definitely received the gift of life.
“I was ready to go. I knew right after surgery, when I popped right out bed, everything was going to be great. There was no pain. I walked 20 laps. The nurses were shocked,” Rick enthused.
Rick and Marci are now great friends. They find it difficult to put into words the strong connection they have.
Both of them are continually monitored by the medical staff at St. Mary’s. Rick’s immune system works at 1/3rd his capacity and he can be more than three times likely to have cancer.
But, so far, so good, or should I say– SO GREAT!
“I live every day like it’s my last,” Rick said.
Knowing now all that is involved with being a donor, would she do it again?
“Hell yeah, I would do it again,” she said emphatically.
It is shocking to realize that an average of 18 people die every day due to the shortage of available organ donors.
In total, there are more than 120,000 Americans awaiting their organ transplants, while millions of people die each year without signing up as organ and tissue donors.
400 people are on the wait list right now in Michigan for a kidney transplant. There are people waiting to live, and dying while they wait –it is a statistic that calls us to action when we consider that only 38% of Kent County citizens are signed up as organ donors when their life has ended.
To register as an organ donor:
- Register with your state’s Organ Donor Registry.
- Select ‘Yes’ to organ donation when you apply for your driver’s license.
- Sign a donor card, if available. For more information: http://giftoflifemichigan.org/become-donor