For most of his life, Scott Reeves was a healthy person, says his wife of 4 years, Robin Reeves. However, things took an unexpected turn. In May of 2010, Scott uncharacteristically called Robin at work to say he needed to go to the doctor. Prior to the phone call, Scott had been experiencing extreme fatigue and loss of appetite. “He wasn’t really himself,” recalls Robin.
A few hours after some routine blood work, Robin and Scott got a call from the doctor’s office. “They told us to go to the emergency room immediately,” says Robin. Within 24 hours of visiting the doctor, Scott was told he only had 5% kidney function and that his kidneys had almost failed entirely. Shortly after arriving at the emergency room, Scott had a catheter placed in his chest and was on dialysis to keep him alive.
Scott’s visit to the emergency room marked the beginning of a 2-year journey on dialysis.
“He was on hemodialysis 3 times a week for 2 years,” explains Robin. “Without functioning kidneys, his heart was weakened and after being rushed to the emergency room again, he got a pacemaker as a precaution.”
It was clear to Robin that Scott’s quality of life was not as good as it could be on dialysis, and she wanted to be tested immediately to see if she qualified as a match to be a kidney donor. Due to other health complications, Scott had to wait over a year until he was healthy enough to be considered for a kidney transplant, and even join the kidney transplant waiting list. With some persistence, Robin convinced her husband to let her get tested as a possible living donor.
“I went one day to my regular scheduled doctor’s appointment and told him I wanted to have my blood tested. I found out in early March that I was a match,” says Robin.
By mid-April, all tests had been completed and the surgery was schedule for May 7, 2012. Robin says that after doing her research about kidney transplantation, she was confident going into the surgery.
“I went into it with no fear at all,” says Robin. “Both of our surgeries were textbook. There were absolutely no complications at all. Everything they said in my research was spot on—I was out of the hospital in 2 days, Scott was out in 4 days,” continues Robin.
Robin continues to say that in addition to the surgery going smoothly, the recovery was easy as well.
“I don’t feel any different other than a scar on my tummy,” explains Robin. “I would totally encourage it if someone asked me about it. If you’re healthy and you can do it, you just say yes,” Robin says of being a living donor.
Robin says that the transformation in Scott was immediately noticeable when he went from dialysis to living with a transplant. In addition to redeveloping his old appetite that was gone for a period of time, Scott also feels different.
“He’s a lot more alert, he has energy now,” says Robin. “He’s smiling more and he has bright eyes again. Things are going really, really well.”
Robin says that even for people who are not considering being living donors, it’s important to learn about organ and tissue donation and consider signing up for the registry. There are more than 3,000 Michigan residents waiting for a life-saving transplant. Over 2,400 Michigan residents are waiting for a kidney transplant. Each organ donor can save up to eight lives, and each tissue donor can improve the lives of up to 50 people.
For Robin, the decision was simple, and she makes sure to tell others.
“As soon as Scott was diagnosed, I signed up for the Organ Donor Registry,” says Robin. “I thought if I can’t help him, I can help someone. It surprises me how many people have diabetes or kidney failure, or have someone in their family who is on dialysis. I encourage everyone to get on the registry.”
On Saturday, June 9, Robin and Scott participated in the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan’s (NKFM) Greater Lansing Kidney Walk. For many, attending an event on a beautiful Saturday in June is typical, but for Scott, it was something he hadn’t done in awhile.
“Saturday used to be a dialysis day,” Robin says. “That was his first Saturday event in 2 years. We are so lucky.”
To register for one of the NKFM's Kidney Walks, visit kidneywalk.org.