April is National Donate Life Month. Some of you may already be thinking, “What does this have to do with me?”

April is National Donate Life Month. Some of you may already be thinking, “What does this have to do with me?”

Chances are you know someone or have someone in your life that is in need of an organ transplant or who has benefited from one. Perhaps that someone is you.

More than likely if you live in Spoon River Country you know Brett and Becky Snyder.

The lifelong Fulton County residents (Brett grew up in St. David and Becky grew up in Canton), have been together almost 22 years, married for 20.

If you know the Snyders, you know someone who is in need of an organ donation.

In this case it is Brett.

Brenda Derry is the living donor coordinator at the OSF Transplant Office. According to literature provided by Derry in 2016 more than 33,600 transplants brought renewed life to patients, their families and communities.

More than 119,000 men, women and children await lifesaving organ transplants with 1,100 of those waiting being 10 years old or younger.

In Brett’s case he has a hereditary disease which affects his kidneys, “I have a hereditary kidney disease called Alport Syndrome, an inherited disease of the kidney that can also affect the inner ear (cochlea) and eye. It is caused by genetic mutations that affect the type IV collagen family of proteins. Type IV collagen is a major part of important tissue structures called basement membranes that are present in all tissues including the kidney, inner ear, and eye. It’s a rare disease that affects less than 200,000 people in the U.S.”  (Info provided by alportsyndrome.org)

Brett underwent his first kidney transplant Dec. 31, 2004 at OSF St. Francis Medical Center.
That kidney began to fail in early 2015.

Brett explained, “My donated kidney developed scarring in the filtering unit of the kidney, also known as FSGS (focal segmental glomerulosclerosis)”.

Is it common for a donated organ to have a ‘shelf-life’ for lack of a better word?

Brett said it is, “Yes, transplant function from a living donor is usually 12 to 20 years and from a deceased donor is 8 to 12 years.”

According to information provided by Derry, another person is added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list every 10 minutes. Unfortunately, 8,000 people die each year, 22 people each day. That is

almost one person each hour because the organs they need are not donated in time.

Of those on the list, 80 percent of patients on the waiting list are waiting for a kidney. The average waiting time for a kidney from a deceased donor is three to five years. A kidney from a living donor offers patients an alternative to years of dialysis and time on the national transplant waiting list.

Despite it all, Becky says they are a typical family, “We’re like any other Midwestern family, enjoying life with some bumps in the road. Brett is off work right now on disability so depending on the other’s schedule, we both help out with all the household chores, and taking our son to and from school. Brett does have more than your usual doctor visits and labs to allow his nephrologist to make any changes as need be for his dialysis  treatment.”

Brett and Becky have one child, “Yes, we have one son Jake who is 10 years old. It’s affected him and he even said one day that he wished he could donate to him, which hit us really hard.”

While Brett’s condition is hereditary, it was not passed on to their son, “Yes, but the genes were not passed to our son. If we were to have a girl the gene would have been passed on.”

Many people are unaware they are able to be a living donor as most are familiar with the option to donate organs following death.

The Snyders said becoming a donor happens in steps, “Donors must be healthy individuals with no history of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure or kidney disease. The evaluation tests will be done in stages. Once the donor passes a stage they will move on to the next stage of the process.”

The person interested in donating will call the transplant office or register online at: https://www.osfhealthcare.org/saint-francis/services/transplant/living-donation/ to initiate the evaluation.

Basic blood and urine tests are done as part of an initial screening.

An appointment is scheduled with the Transplant Team which includes the surgeon, a nephrologist, social worker, dietician, pharmacist, living donor coordinator, financial coordinator and living donor advocate.

Further testing will include an EKG, chest x-ray, CT scan and more blood and urine tests.

A CT scan is done to evaluate the kidney anatomy.

Surgery will be scheduled after both the donor and recipient have completed their evaluations.

The donor’s test results will remain confidential, and they have the option to decline to donate at any time.

Brett is currently doing Paratoniel dialysis at home everyday and does his treatment at night while he sleeps. However, this past winter after discussing with his nephrologist at his monthly checkup, he made the decision to switch to home hemodialysis.

Friday, April 14, he had a fistcula put in his lower left arm and has a tentative training start date of June 19.

Said Becky, “April is Donate Life Month and I have an event set up under the Facebook page set up for Brett in hopes to find him a donor. I just shared the most recent data from Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN).”

The Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/inneedofakidneyformyhusbandincentralillinois/

The event link is: https://www.facebook.com/events/1845068742414812/?ti=cl

“I would ask that if they wish to follow his story go the page, like it and share it to help get the word out.”

More than 134 million people, approximately 54 percent of the U.S. adult population, are registered organ, eye and tissue donors, according to data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) as of Jan. 9, 2017.

To register your decision to save and heal lives, visit RegisterMe.org. To learn more about organ, eye, tissue and living donation, visit DonateLife.net.

Please note, living donation is not included in a donor registration.

There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate for donation. The donor family pays only for medical expenses before death and costs associated with funeral arrangements.

Your social and/or financial status does not play any part in whether or not a person in need receives an organ. A national system matches available organs from the donor with people on the waiting list based on blood type, body size, how sick they are, donor distance, tissue type and time on the list. Race, income, gender, celebrity and social status are never considered.

If someone reading this would like to help Brett, please call Brenda Derry, 309-655-4101, 1-800-635-1440 or 309-624-5433. The first two numbers are her for her office. The last number is a direct line. Leave a message if she isn’t available.