Handling the curves that life throws you
By Jessica Taper
When you start to think about the next stage after your kids graduate from college and are out there in the working world — most of us are planning a time when we can slow down our workload, travel some more, take up some new hobbies, basically start building and checking off the bucket list. But sometimes life just throws you a curve and things begin to take a different shape. For Steve and Marjie Sands of Plano, their new path is kidney-shaped, as Steve needs a kidney and is hoping to find a living donor.
The good news is that if they can find a kidney donor match for Steve, there is a great chance that all of those plans they were originally making will still happen.
In 2017, Steve was diagnosed with a renal disease called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). Basically, it is scarring of the glomerulus (filters) in the kidneys. The disease has progressed to the point where Steve is close to renal failure. Once the kidneys fail, the options for survival are dialysis or a donor kidney. Fortunately, the human body needs only one functioning kidney to lead a normal life and that is why living donors make a huge difference to the more than 100,000 people, like Steve, who are currently waiting for a kidney donation.
Most live kidney donors are relatives, but so far there are no family matches. Steve has blood type O, and even though that is the most common blood type it is the hardest to find a match. O blood type donors are universal donors, but they can receive only O blood type organs. He has been accepted into both the UT Southwestern Organ Donation Program and the Weill Cornell University Hospital in New York in association with renewal.org. The anticipated waiting times for these programs are 7 to 10 years for blood type O.
So while Steve has started the first phase of his future retirement and is working contract jobs that give him more flexibility, he along with his friends and family are all jumping into the world of helping find a kidney donation.
“People are jumping on board from all phases of my life. I am hearing from friends in Arizona where I grew up and went to Arizona State, my kids’ friends and families we met at Congregation Beth Torah Preschool, Temple Shalom and BBYO. Even Joel’s Plano Senior High School band friends, Jennifer’s Greene Family Camp co-workers and Marjie’s work colleagues are helping spread the word,” added Steve.
“They are trying all avenues, including creating the website kidney4steve.org, social media campaigns, letter writing, T-shirts, signage, word-of-mouth in order to reach as many people as they can.
“It is incredibly hard to put yourself out there and ask someone to make this type of donation, but I am in a fight for my life,” added Steve. “I am so thankful for my family and friends who considered or applied to donate. Even though they are not a match, they are helping me get the word out to find one.”
The best option for a complete recovery would be for Steve to find a match before he begins dialysis. However, knowing that his condition is deteriorating, his doctors performed surgery to place an arteriovenous (AV) fistula in his arm. This surgery creates a connection between an artery and a vein for dialysis access if needed.
“It takes several weeks for the fistula to mature and heal, so my nephrologist wanted to be proactive incase my kidney disease continues to pick up speed,” said Steve.
Steve who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, moved to Dallas in 1984. He met his wife Marjie and they have been married more than three decades. Together they have raised Arizona State University grad Joel, who followed in his father’s footsteps into technology, and Jennifer, who recently graduated from Texas Women’s University with a degree in elementary education.
Marjie and Steve love traveling and cycling and often combine the two into once-in-a-lifetime adventures. While those are not easy cycling treks, the rewards of the sites that they get to see and the people that they get to meet are beyond compare. And perhaps the discipline and determination that drives Steve through those cycling adventures will also be strength that he along with his family and friends use to help him find that perfect match.
If you are interested in kidney donation and learning more about Steve, please visit www.Kidney4Steve.org.