Hi, my name is Debi, and I am Mikes wife. I will be the author of most if not all of his journey. Mike grew up in Kansas, and as a young boy was ill with kidney disease, diagnosed as nephritis brought on by strep throat. He knew that he could possibly have problems in the future. After a few years he seemed to get better and went on to graduate from Kansas University with degrees in Accounting and Business Administration. He is a die hard KU Jayhawks basketball fan, but loves all sports including his Denver Broncos. Before he became ill, Mike enjoyed camping, fishing, hiking, and just about anything outdoors. He moved to Colorado in 1978 where he got a job at Kaiser Permanente in Denver. That’s where he met me! We married in 1981, and Mike retired after 35 years at Kaiser. He did keep me around though. We are the truest of soulmates.
Now the kidney part. In 2005 we became aware that Mikes kidneys were failing, and finally was diagnosed with IGA Nephropathy, an autoimmune disease with no cure. In 2008 Mike got very sick and we knew his kidneys had finally gotten so bad that dialysis and or transplant were the only answer. He was then put on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. And we began to prepare ourselves for what lie ahead of us. As we were preparing for dialysis, a friend stepped forward and said she had been tested and was a match. Unknown by us that she had done this, we could only ask Why? Her answer, “because I can, I can do this. We were overjoyed that she had stepped up and gave Mike another chance at a healthy life. In January 2009, the transplant took place. Our donor soared through it and is still strong and healthy to this day. Mike with a few ups and downs over the next few years, did well and was able to live a very full life. With Lola, the name we had given Mikes new kidney, life was good.
In August of 2017, Mike again became very sick rather quickly. We rushed him to the hospital and found out that the kidney had gone into acute cellular renal rejection. We were in shock. He had only had the kidney for 9 years, and we had hoped for many more. The Drs did everything they could to save Lola, but things continued to get worse, and Mike got sicker. Between 2017 to now, many things happened very fast, including almost losing him around mid December 2017. He finally began hemodialysis in December 2017, after failing a try at Peritoneal Dialysis. Mike must be hooked up to a machine , three times a week, 4 hours each session. It keeps him alive, but he still suffers from extreme fatigue, nausea and weight loss that limits his activities on his off days. Dialysis is just a temporary way to keep him going until we can find a new donor. Dialysis also has many risks including additional health complications and infections that could eventually end his chance of ever receiving a transplant in the future, leaving him on lifelong dialysis. Life as we knew it has once again been dramatically changed.
THE PLEA FOR A LIVING KIDNEY DONOR! So now, we share the plea “The Big Ask” for someone to step up and be his second living donor. Receiving a kidney from a living donor can cut years off of being on dialysis and living donor organs survive longer than organs received from deceased donors and gives Mike the best chance of living a longer life. As well as giving him his life back to do the things he loves. We have been unable to find a donor among our circle of family and friends, so we are asking for someone to search their heart to step up and donate one of their heathy kidneys. It’s a Big Ask, and it’s not for everyone. But I just know that there must be that someone, that ONE who will “share their spare”. Mike’s wait on the list could be up to 5 years or more. Over a 100 thousand people are on the waiting list for a kidney, and only about 20 thousand a year receive one. Of those only approximately 6000 come from living donors. Sadly, many die while waiting. Daily 12 people will die waiting for an organ that could have been donated. For more information on kidney donation, go online to the National Kidney Foundation at (kidney.org). It can answer most if not all of your questions regarding donation.
DONATING If you feel you can be the One for Mike, please call to see if you are a candidate. All of this is done anonymously. We will never be notified unless a possible match has been found. You cancall PRESBYTERIAN/ST. LUKES MEDICAL CENTER in DENVER, CO. at (tel:720-754-2155 (tel:754-2155)) for inquires about being a match for Mike Hamm. They will do an initial phone screening at first, to see if you can be considered as a donor. Mikes blood type is O, but even another blood type that is a good candidate could give through the pair donation transplants. We cannot pay for a kidney, but new laws allow for a donor to take time off work through FMLA without fear of losing their job to donate. The transplant recipients medical insurance pays for all of the donors medical bills, including all tests before surgery. What is required from you is knowing the procedures and tests involved are as much for your safety, as his. You must be fairly healthy, although donors with some medical issues can donate. You must be aware of the procedure you would be undertaking and the recovery time of donating. Donors are out of work sometimes for weeks recuperating, and may lose income if their employer does not allow for some type of paid time off. They also have other expenses for travel, lodging, etc. for visits to a far away transplant center. Currently there is a push to cover these costs for all living donors, but fortunately Mike and I may be able to cover most of these additional costs incurred by the living donor, and if so there would be no financial burden placed on you or your family. If you are accepted, then we would make sure at that time all arrangements are made and as much of the costs as possible are covered. The hospital will inform us if a possible match becomes available.
This is not an easy ASK, but I put my pride aside to save the husband I love with all my heart. We know now that we must come forward, put it out there, or he can die waiting. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please share this post with others. Begin the conversation, “Can I be a living donor to save a life.” Don’t take your gift to the grave.
Mikes match IS out there. You may be the one. Please search your heart. ARE YOU THE ONE?
With the most sincerest of thanks, Mike and Debi Hamm.
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