MURRAY, Utah, (News4Utah) — There are far more people, in the United States and here in Utah, waiting for a kidney than any other organ.
In our five-part series called ‘Faces of Transplant,’ we are highlighting five incredible stories that show the precious gift of life and the importance of being a living donor.
They are the most generous acts we see in medicine. Jerold Wilcox of Riverton didn’t have to look very far for his, superhero, just a few doors down.
An avid cyclist, 57-year-old Jerold Wilcox, was used to grueling uphill battles.
But when he found himself losing steam keeping up with his friends, he didn’t know he’d be facing his toughest challenge yet.
“The first words out of a nephrologist’s mouth was you need a kidney transplant,” said Jerold.
As a nurse manager at the NICU in Provo, Jerold, spent a career bringing life into the world and now, his was slipping away.
“I thought my life was over,” said Jerold.
His story is a common one.
Dr. Donald Morris, a transplant nephrologist at Intermountain Medical Center says, Jerold has had type 1 diabetes since he was a child.
“Living donation is usually the best option if they are fortunate enough, like Jerold, for someone to step forward,” said Morris.
That someone was 38-year-old Nicole Campbell.
“I just wanted to do something to help. It wasn’t something super special.”
Jerold would strongly disagree. In his eyes, her act was nothing short of heroic.
“To help their life become better is the greatest superhero I can think of. How do you thank someone who is willing to donate an organ to save your life? There are no words, no words what so ever,” said Jerold.
“He’s the kind of neighbor, he’ll shovel your walk when there is snow, he’s the first to help,” said Nicole, organ donor.
Jerold received Nicole’s kidney, 6 months ago this past November.
“She and I are connected by the hip, quite literally, because the kidney is right here,” said Jerold.
Out of more than 120,000 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ, roughly 100,000 of them are for a kidney.
Dr. Morris says every month 3,000 people are added to the waiting list.
Dr. Morris says patients with diabetes need to be screened annually for chronic kidney disease and watch their diet.
“We’re picky who we let donate so we feel confident to reassure them they won’t have long term consequences from donating a kidney,” said Morris.
“If you want to be a super hero donate an organ, either while you’re still alive or when you are gone you don’t need those organs. Let someone else have a chance to live,” said Jerold.