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Watching a Slow Motion Car Accident

by June 16th, 2011 5 Comments »

We’ve been colleagues for years, but I just met Jerry. Our paths never crossed until last fall. I was working on IU East’s Alumni Magazine, Radius, and Jerry’s story was to be featured. The story immediately grabbed my attention: IU East professor in need of a kidney transplant due to Alport’s Syndrome – former student comes forward to donate his kidney to ex-professor. You would hope the story ends there. Or maybe there is an epilogue telling us about the success of the surgery and revitalized quality of life for all. But so far, it hasn’t happened that way.

Due to some health concerns of his own, this former student hasn’t been able to go forth with the transplant surgery; Jerry is still waiting. What a long wait it must be. He’s still teaching  (a full schedule) college students how to become amazing teachers themselves, he’s still a dad and a husband, still a colleague and friend, all the while going to dialysis three nights a week from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m so that he can continue to teach.

Jerry is working with James Barbre, a graduate studies director at IU East, to film a documentary of their evolving journey. They hope to document everything: the treatment, the challenges and a happy ending.

“It’s tiring,“ Jerry said to me. “I just feel like I’m watching a slow motion car accident and I can’t do anything to help.”

I captured Jerry during three different photo shoots for the story, but one of the locations in particular opened my eyes. Jerry allowed me to accompany him to an evening of dialysis. You don’t really understand what people go through until you observe it for yourself.

It’s the ambiance of the place and putting real faces with the stories that solidified it for me. Patients lay in a dimly lit room, hooked up through needles and tubes to a machine that sustains life. These people CANNOT miss a treatment. And they wait. Wait for a kidney, wait for a better quality of life, wait for peace of mind.

Jerry has a lot of life yet to live; to witness big dreams for his kids , to impact more education students, and to teach more people about organ donation. I wouldn’t ask something of the internet that I wouldn’t consider for myself. Yes, I was tested and I’m not a compatible match for Jerry. But you might be.

So here’s the 411: there are no medical costs to donors. If you are blood type A or O, you just might be the one that can help Jerry continue living his life. And here’s the thing, you can continue to still live your life too. Please call IU Health at 800-382-4602 and ask for Kelly to find out more.  You can also to go Donate Life America (www.donatelife.net) or the National Kidney Foundation (www.kidney.org) to find out just about anything on kidney disease, dialysis, or transplantation.

Jerry isn’t just a colleague anymore. He’s a friend. And he desperately needs a kidney.

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5 thoughts on “Watching a Slow Motion Car Accident”

  • Curtis Deckard says:

    I am that former student who could not donate to Jerry. I was devastated when I was informed I was eliminated as a donor. I was working with Jay and Jerry in hopes of spreading the word on donating organs to people in need. I pray Jerry will get the kidney he needs and Jay’s work will help get the word out about donating. Thanks for the story.

    • admin says:

      Curtis, I can imagine the disappointment you must have experienced when you found out you were eliminated as a donor. Even though we can’t help Jerry directly, perhaps spreading the word about his need for a kidney will help in some small way. Wish we could do more.

  • Emily says:

    Jerry is my bestfriend’s dad. He’s a wonderful upbeat person and I can’t imagine what he has to go through. I hope he finds a donor soon.

    Keep on keeping on, Jerry!


  • Beverly Faust says:

    I was teaching in East Troy WI when I met Jerry. He was a guidance counselor at the time but he was also studying for his doctorate which wasn’t easy as he was also going through dialysis at the same time. How happy we were when he finally got his kidney transplant. I don’t think there was a dry eye on the elementary staff as we all knew how hard Jerry had work to get his doctorate and the kidney. Again I am sure we are hoping and pray that there will be a repeat of the transplant as Jerry I know has a lot more to give to his life and those around him. God bless, Jerry!!!!

  • Jenie Lahmann says:

    Thank you for posting this story and photos. I have known Jerry for many years and had lost touch with him recently and was unaware of his current journey with is kidney. He is a kind man and has so much life and love to share. My prayers go out to him and his family. — Jenie

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