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Recipient Stories

Faith, Family & Friends

Hello, my name is Carl Cook, I’m 53 years old and I live in Wintersville, Ohio. I want to tell you a brief story of my transplant experience.

My Dad died at age 50, in 1971. Complications of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) had taken his life early. Thirteen years later in 1984, I was in my late 20’s and I knew that I had inherited that same kidney disease from my Dad. I did everything possible to stay healthy – eating right, and exercising – yet I still developed PKD.

In 1994, the disease started growing very fast. My kidneys were failing, and I did not want to have the same final fate as my Dad. So, I went to see doctors in both Cleveland to Pittsburgh to talk about my option of a kidney transplant.

After working as a pipe fitter for 28 years, I had to retire December 30, 1999 because the kidney disease had progressed to life-threatening level. In February 2000, the doctors determined that I was healthy enough to receive a kidney transplant, so I was placed on the national transplant waiting list. By June 2001, my kidney function had decreased to the point where I needed to be on dialysis in order to keep me alive while I waited for my transplant. I did hemodialysis three times a week, four hours at a time and two needles were placed in my arm circulating my blood through the machine. Hemodialysis circulates the blood is through an artificial kidney machine that filters out toxic wastes before returning the blood to the patient.

After doing hemodialysis for six months, nephrologists told me that my two existing diseased kidneys were too large and diseased for my body to accommodate a kidney transplant. Both of my kidneys had to be removed in December 2002.

I continued doing hemodialysis for a total of two and half years. I did receive a few calls from the transplant center in Cleveland to get ready because there might be a kidney available, but I did not get THE CALL until March 1, 2004. After waiting for 49 months for a desperately needed kidney transplant, our prayers were answered! I am so thankful to the donor’s family for saying yes to donation in such a tragic time. I received two kidneys from a very young donor, of just 20 months old.

My operation was a huge success! My hospital stay was only five days, a short time compared to the 49 months of being on the waiting list. I received my kidney transplant three and half years ago and it is working perfectly!

I have not been able to return to my former occupation as a pipefitter, but I am very happy now that I am healthy enough to have been happily married for 23 years and I have seen my two daughters graduate high school and go on to continue their education in college.

I thank God, and my donor family, that I am currently able to volunteer with Lifeline of Ohio, and help with several of my local church activities. I have made wonderful friends while sharing my story and the importance of donating life!

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