This is our Dad, Joe Doviak: A living husband, a living father of three, a living grandfather of five, a living brother-in-law, a living uncle, a living cousin and a living friend to many. Living….. that is the key word we want to share with you all and we hope and we pray that we can continue to say that word to describe our Dad for many years to come. Living, not only to describe our father’s status in life but also to describe the person who will help save his life via a living kidney donation.
Our Dad’s story: A simple blood test in February 2018 started our Dad’s journey to being diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease. After that blood test came a battery of other tests and procedures and numerous doctor’s appointments to rule out what may or may not be causing this serious decline in his kidney function and his overall health. In the end, it was determined that the only treatment options for his condition are dialysis or a kidney transplant. In a matter of 6 months, our Dad went from living a normal, active life of a 71-year-old, type I diabetic, to living a life revolving around doctor’s appointments, taking multiple medications that are trying to compensate for his lack of kidney function, constant fatigue, and other complications.
Our Dad has always been a do it yourself type of a guy. For many years he was the sole provider for our family which allowed our Mom to stay home and raise us three girls. He tackled most house projects on his own, he never allowed anyone to care for our lawn or help with snow removal during the brutal central New York winters. This disease has made it difficult for our Dad to continue to be that do it yourself kind of guy. Tasks around the house that he used to do with ease are now a challenge. Anyone who knows our Dad also knows that he loves to golf. This golf season the Oswego Country Club’s fairways and putting greens have missed his presence. He has fought to get there a few times though to practice some putting, hit a few balls on the driving range, and play a few holes at a time. He was not going to let this disease keep him from playing golf. To see how our Dad has been fighting what has most definitely been the biggest health challenge in his life have made us so proud of him. We, along with his grandchildren, are witnessing his fighting attitude and we can only hope that this will be instilled in all of us for the rest of our lives.
One month ago our Dad had his fistula surgery to prepare his body for the start of dialysis. He hopes to start dialysis in the next week or two. Dialysis will help his kidneys do their job, but it involves treatments 3-4 times a week for 3-4 hours at a time. The dialysis treatments will basically keep him alive, but a transplant would offer him more freedom and the ability to live a longer, healthier, more normal life. A transplant would also give him more time to do the things he enjoys most, like golfing, going to the casino, and most importantly being able to travel and spend time with family and friends, especially his grandchildren.
Last week we did receive some good news. Our Dad found out that he was approved for a kidney transplant and was placed on the waiting list. Although this was good news, finding a kidney for a transplant is not easy. There are 100,000+ people on the waiting list for a deceased donor kidney. Time is not on our side. The average wait time is five years or more for a kidney from a deceased donor. This wait time could be cut drastically by receiving a kidney from a living donor.
Asking for help is not something that our Dad is comfortable doing, nor does he do it very often. We think that has something to do with his pride, him being an only child and taking on a lot of responsibilities in his family life and just maybe his stubbornness. It is difficult for him to ask a family member or a friend to consider donating a kidney but he knows that it greatly improves his chances of getting a transplant. Today, on our Dad’s behalf we ask, will you consider being his kidney donor?
Thank you for taking the time to read our Dad’s story. If donating a kidney is something you would like to consider, we would be happy to tell you more about our Dad and explore the process of determining if you are a match for him. The first step is simple. Just go to https://www.upstate.edu/surgery/ld_screen_form.php and fill out the Living Donor Screening form. You can also contact the lead coordinator for living donors at 315-464-5413.
We know living donation may not be right for everyone, but you can still help! Please help us by sharing our Dad’s story with everyone you know. Post his story on your social media accounts and share this letter with your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. You never know where we might find a match for him. It could be a relative, a friend, or a complete stranger. At the very least we want to bring awareness to kidney disease and living donation. It is our hope that this campaign will help our Dad receive a kidney sooner and encourage others to consider helping the many people on the waiting list.
With thanks from the bottom of our hearts,
Jen (Doviak) West, Michelle (Doviak) Baroody and Heather Doviak