CURTIS’ STORY

Curtis was in stage 5 kidney failure with a kidney function level of 12 percent.

Curtis was diagnosed with the disease IgA nephropathy when he was 13 years old and has had regular check-ups with his nephrologist (kidney doctor) once or twice a year since then.

In January of 2019, a hero donor was a catalyst for life and provided him a kidney. Curtis now has a kidney function level of over 60 percent.

HEROES/DONORS SPOTLIGHT

Tarina is an animal lover (specifically dogs) and was connected with our story on social media.  The funny part of the story is that Tarina was especially emotionally grabbed by the part of the video when she saw our family playing with our beautiful golden retriever.  When she told me that, I had to tell her: “that’s not our dog!  The filmmaker Ezra said that the only time he could come over to shoot was a Thursday morning at 6:30 a.m. and he would have to bring his dog Scout – was that o.k.?  We told him sure, the kids will love it.”  Turns out Scout gets an assist in the Curtis Can, His Kidneys Can’t campaign!

Tarina lost her Mom to lung cancer a few years ago and thinks often about whether she could still be with us if there is anything anyone could have done for her and that she saw this as a chance for her to contribute to the betterment of someone’s life and the life of those around them.  She reviewed all of the information on the website, spoke to her personal doctors about it and felt that the pros outweighed the cons.  She saw the support system I have around me and felt that a kidney donation to me wouldn’t be wasted/lost/taken for granted.  She described it as a “no brainer”.

I asked if she was surprised to find herself here doing extensive testing for donation.  She said not surprised, more pleased.   She’s proud of the opportunities that it presents for her to help.  She would have done it sooner if she would have known about it sooner.

I am a 3rd grade teacher in Rancho Bernardo who moved to Escondido from Long Beach (where I grew up and went to college) about a year ago.  I live there with my husband, 2-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.

I am a person that has lots of interesting ideas in life, so I always go up to my husband and say “ok, so I need to talk to you about something,” and he says “ok, lay it on me.  Do it quick.  What’s your big idea this time?”    So, I told him, and he said “cool – it’s your body and do what you feel is right.”  He was amazingly supportive. I had connected to Curtis’s story through social media. A good friend mine live block away on the same street as Curtis. I went to the website and just had a feeling “that this feels right, and this feels amazing.”  Then I saw that I had the same blood type and other things kept happening that told me I wanted to do this “so here I am.”

I have previously been tested for bone marrow donation. I did a lot of research and talked to a secretary at my school – her husband had donated his kidney to a co-worker and went through the whole donation process. A few people have asked me “why,” and I’ve said, “why not?!!”  The side effects that I might have, I can’t deal with, I can deal with.  Curtis can’t deal with his kidney right now!

~Arianne

A friend of mine, Alan Prohaska, went to business school with Curtis at UCLA.  He mentioned Curtis’ need at a men’s bible study program that we are both involved in and asked that we pray for Curtis and his family + spread the word. When I heard the story, I felt a calling like this was something I was going to do.  I went home and got on the website and said “yeah, absolutely.”

I’m Christian and I’m a believer.  I absolutely believe it was God just talking to me.  A lot of times, I don’t listen but don’t know for whatever reason…I sort of let it rest for a day and let it simmer and said, “I don’t know what I’m feeling.”  The next day, I woke up and talked to my wife about it and she said, “just go with it.” My wife could just tell that this is something I felt strongly about and said “wow, I’ve never seen you like this.  Just go with it.”

This happened about two months ago. I did a ton of research the first few days. I have three kids – 6, 3 ½ and 18 months.  Two boys and a baby girl.  The two boys are boys’ boys.  I just wanted to make sure that I could be a Dad after the surgery.  My boys are really physical, and we like to wrestle and throw each other around a lot.  Through all of my research, I learned that yes, kidney donation does have an impact on your future lifestyle, but the impact is pretty minimal compared to what you can do for someone.

~Kevin

My name is Shannon and on September 26, 2017, I participated in a kidney chain. I donated on behalf of a friend, but in the process gained new friends for life. I donated simply because a friend was very sick, and I was fortunate enough to be healthy enough to give him a new lease on life. The recovery was quick, and soon I was back to doing all the things I did before surgery. Several months after my surgery, I was running a half marathon to prove to myself that saving a life didn’t mean sacrificing my own. Just over 13 months post surgery, I ran another half marathon, hand in hand with my recipient’s wife. Donating a kidney doesn’t have to change your life, but it probably will. For the better.

~Shannon

Hello, I am your kidney donor. I received your letter and am very happy to learn all is well for you and your family. My wife, children, parents and siblings are so very important to me and I very much wanted my kidney to go to a person with a loving family and obviously that wish was granted. I want to share several of my thoughts with you: why I started thinking about kidney donation, my decision making process, and some of the reasons for my donation.

In December, 2010 I watched a television program which detailed the horrific effects of renal disease and dialysis and then proceeded to describe the kidney donation process. Until seeing that program I was sadly ignorant regarding the situation and struggles inherent to those suffering kidney failure. I did not know the important basics regarding kidney function, failure, treatment, resolution options, and the physical, mental and emotional toll on patients and their families. This started my research into the disease and whether I could do something/anything to help. I researched through the internet, with special attention to credible National Kidney and Organ Donation organizations, the Mayo Clinic, plus several other renowned Health Providers recognized as leaders in kidney function and research. As my knowledge increased my desire to help increased in depth and intensity. I had many lengthy discussions with my wife, 5 children, siblings, spiritual counselors and several respected medical/kidney specialists. I searched and sought out non-directed donors, people who had given a kidney to an unknown recipient, and talked with them about their experience, feelings and reflections. I also talked with people with renal issues including a person who had successfully received a non-directed donated kidney. At this point I was leaning toward but not yet totally committed to donating a kidney.

Based on this knowledge and thought evolution my next step was to think about the philosophical and practical reasons and effects of kidney donation. As time passed my list of “whys” grew in quality and quantity whilst the “why not’s” became less significant, the reasons to donate far outweighed the few potential risks. I will offer you a small sample of my rationale:

  • It is an “accident of good fortune”, not due to any effort or activity on my part, that I have been blessed with two good kidneys. Likewise, many with renal issues suffer not due to any fault of their own. My good fortune should be shared.
  • Humans are social beings. As such we have social responsibilities to other humans. A prime responsibility is to assist in the healthy survival of our brothers and sisters.
  • The test of words and ideas is if they are backed by actions. I have tried to live by several basic values one of which is service to others. Donation of a kidney is an action I felt demonstrated this core value.
  • I find it impossible to imagine the physical, mental and emotional anguish attendant to renal disease and dialysis. The opportunity to relieve a fellow human being of such a horrible burden is a true gift for me to have the ability to deliver.
  • I find a great sense of personal satisfaction in bringing joy to my loved ones. I know that my recipient will bring joy to his loved ones and I will intuitively feel a small part of the satisfaction that occurs.
  • I learned that a kidney transplanted from a living donor will on average function 4 times longer than a kidney transplanted from a deceased donor.
  • Every day there are innumerable incidents of people performing actions, many at great risk to their own well-being, benefiting unknown others. I am not a military person protecting freedom, nor a fireman protecting life and property, nor one of innumerable other individuals dedicating their lives to serve/help others so I wanted to do what I could by donating my kidney.
  • Finally, and perhaps most important, I searched for the ousia of the human spirit, the essence of who we are, the values we, as human beings, have in common, that which sets us apart from all else, and I believe it is love. The most dire existence I can imagine is one without love and, conversely, the more love the better the existence. Recalling the last lyric of the last Beatles album: “In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.” I feel the basic foundation of love is selflessness and sharing with others.

As written above I had many discussions with people I love, respect and trust; as we went through the thinking and further developed these concepts the idea of kidney donation seriously became part of my “Bucket List” (after my surgery I thanked the surgeon for helping me tick this off my list!). Donation just made total sense to me so I made the “Go” decision. I went to the Mayo Clinic in January, 2012, 13 months after watching that thought-initiating television show, for 3+ days of intense physical and psychological testing and about a week later the Transplant Committee voted to allow me to donate.
My subsequent discussions with the Mayo Transplant team lead to a single criteria for the transplant: find the recipient whom best matches my kidney and maximizes the chances of a successful donation. I was informed in May, 2012 an excellent match recipient was found and we proceeded to schedule surgery for June 19 pending follow-up kidney function testing. After the surgery, leaving the recovery area and re-locating to my hospital room at Mayo the Transplant team visited to give me the best possible news: the transplant was successful, the transplanted kidney was fully functional and the recipient was feeling great and in good spirits! It was the report I so much wanted to hear.

As I read your kind letter to me it was very meaningful that you have a loving support group of family and friends and are “living life to its’ fullest every single day”. Bringing joy and happiness to others, especially those in need, is a core value it seems we mutually share.

This has turned out to be a bit lengthy, as I write it is hard to stop. I trust and pray you are well and will be healthy for many, many years to come.

Health and Love,

Your Donor

Heidi and BruceThere’s nothing better than saving someone’s life. God gave us two kidneys, but you can live easily with one. So, SHARE YOUR SPARE, like I did, and become a donor hero. You will be changed, empowered, with a heart full of gratitude. Recovery was quick and I’m thankful I was approved to be a live kidney donor. One year later people ask me……..would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I saved someone’s life. If you have questions about becoming a live kidney donor, please reach out! I can be reached at 949-497-0005 or email me at tightassetslaguna@gmail.com. Here’s a photo from our 1-year checkup at Cedars Sinai in Beverly Hills at the transplant center. This was taken on Friday. Saturday, November 17th was his 1-year NEW birthday! I’m 5’ 3” and Bruce is 6’ 5”. Size doesn’t matter……..when it comes to kidneys!

~Heidi Miller & Bruce Cook

If anyone has thought of getting tested and would like to chat with someone who’s gone through the process, feel free to message me, or even write me an email at socal.renee@gmail.com I donated a kidney to a non relative in 2004, It was so hard to watch someone so full of life, go through dialysis. The loss of time, energy, and hope for getting their normal life back was hard to watch. It’s been over 14 yrs, and both the donor and I are both doing well. It was literally a few days out of my life, to give someone back theirs. The best feeling ever.

~Renee Howard Escobedo

I am proud to be a living kidney donor. In 2006, I donated my left kidney to my father, who was 56 years old at the time, I was 25 years old. He needed a donor and fortunately, I was a match! My surgery was 4 hours and I had a relatively speedy recovery. In a matter of a couple months, life went back to normal for me and my dad’s quality of life improved tremendously. Three months after my surgery, I started training for my first half marathon. 10 years later, I had a very healthy pregnancy and healthy baby boy. Today, I’m healthy and doing great. My dad is also doing well. It’s really special to give the gift of life 🙂 and everyone should do it!

~Sun

My name is Sakura and I donated my kidney to my brother (26) in 2008. After being on a very long transplant waiting list and his condition rapidly declining, I made the choice to donate. Simply because it meant that I could save his life. The test showed that I was a great match and I was on my way to be examined further. The transplant coordinator pretty much handled everything, from setting up appointments to support. The whole 9 yards! I felt very comfortable and confident the entire time. A little nervous the night before, but all was well in the end. I forget that I even have 1 kidney now. 10 years later I still feel great and I encourage those who are healthy to consider becoming a kidney donor. I’d do it again if I could!

~Sakura, mother of 2, Long Beach, CA

WHAT DIFFERENCE DID A KIDNEY TRANSPLANT MAKE FOR CURTIS?

Curtis now has a donor kidney that CAN … help him continue the life he has with his wife, two young children, and being a contributing force in an incredible community comprised of business and personal relationships. When compared to dialysis, kidney transplant offers people like Curtis the opportunity for a longer, healthier, and more satisfying life. The generous gift of a kidney has allowed Curtis to enjoy basic aspects of life that many of us take for granted:

Freedom from Dialysis

Not having to be connected to a machine, typically three days a week, to live.

Independence

Being able to continue running his law practice and be productive in all aspects of life.

Autonomy

Ability to enjoy what many of us take for granted without dialysis taking control.

Exercise

A return to a normal, healthy lifestyle.

Food

The ability to eat normal food.

Water

No restrictions on drinking sufficient water.

One Life Organ Donation Run/Walk 2017
One Life Organ Donation Run/Walk 2018
Halloween 2018 (Curtis Is Transformer In Middle)

THE GIFT OF LIFE

A hero donor “shared their spare” by donating their extra kidney to give the gift of life to our family.

Two of the biggest differences in my life post-surgery are my sleeping and my body temperature. Because my kidneys weren’t working properly and filtering the waste in my blood, I was waking up 4-6 times per night and finding it tough to be fully rested. Now, post-transplant with my new kidney doing a lot of heavy lifting, I only wake up once per night!

For the last ten years or so, I’ve always felt cold. The kidneys play a role in regulating body temperature and so it wasn’t unusual to find me in 60-degree temperature wearing multiple layers, a beanie, a scarf and a winter coat. Now, my temperature regulation is normal, which is an amazing improvement.

Some of the benefits to being a living donor include:

Giving a life back to someone special makes it possible for them to pay it forward and live a productive life!

The recipient will cover all of your expenses including lost wages, travel expenses, child care, medical expenses, etc.

Peace of mind that living kidney donors thrive with one kidney, just as they did with two kidneys.

Medical coverage for kidney-related health needs – for life.

Warranty for Life – all hero kidney donors go to the very top of the list if they ever were to need a kidney themselves.

MORE INFO COMING SOON!

Thanking Gene Okun of Gene’s Big Dumb Kidneys for the inspiration and content for this website.

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