NEW KNOXVILLE — A lifelong resident of New Knoxville is looking for a miracle.
Gene Kuck is in the end stage of renal failure and needs the gift of life of a kidney through a transplant from the living donor.
“He was diagnosed as a diabetic when he was 40 years old,” said his wife, Jane. “He’s 65 now and the past couple of years his kidney function has been going downhill.”
In 2021, he was placed on the transplant list at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. He undergoes dialysis three times a week at Fresenius Kidney Care in Celina.
“What led us to this point is his diabetic medicine and blood pressure medicine,” said Jane. “And he’s lost a lot of weight.”
Jane said her husband had a stroke six years ago. At that time, dyes were injected to see what damage the stroke had caused.
“The dyes did a number on his kidneys,” said Jane. “Plus the Metformin he’s been on for diabetes has been bad on his kidneys.”
She said they go to Celina on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for dialysis. They arrive at the clinic for at 6 a.m. for treatment, which lasts 3 1/2 hours.
“He has a port in for that (dialysis),” she said. Dialysis was started around Thanksgiving in 2021 and at that time he had 7% kidney function.
“It’s known as the silent killer,” she said. “We wouldn’t have known he had it without bloodwork.”
COVID-19 hasn’t stopped his dialysis treatment, said Jane. “The dialysis center has certain days where they deal with people who had COVID. They have a room enclosed that they use.”
A lifelong farmer, Gene turned the management of the farm over to their son, Andy, after his stroke. He still remains active with running the 2,400 acre farm by driving the tractor and going to get parts that are needed.
“We’re hoping and praying that something comes about before spring,” said Jane.
The couple has owned the Village Market/Marathon station in New Knoxville for 25 years.
“He helps out when he can by running errands and going to the bank,” said Jane. “I take care of ordering. We couldn’t do this without our great employees.”
Gene has a transplant team at OSU Wexner, she said.
“He went in last fall for a complete physical, which included a stress test. Everything was checked.”
The donor, she said, will get everything done for free. Their time off from work for recovery from the surgery will also be paid.
Jane said Gene doesn’t want their children tested as the kidney disease he has is hereditary. Jane said she has high blood pressure so she’s not eligible to be a living donor. So far, none of their extended family members is eligible to be a donor.
“The hospital is recommending a life transplant before their is a longer life expediency with a live donor is 20 years. Plus they don’t take the (diseased) kidney out, they just place the new one in front of it.
“Once he gets the transplant, he’ll be on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life,” she said.
If a live donor isn’t found, they also have the option to do a kidney swap where a person will donate a kidney to another person who needs it while a another person would provide a kidney for Gene. That process, she said, takes a lot longer.
Once a kidney donor is found, Gene will go through another physical. The donor will also be tested and will have to schedule time off from work.
“Within a month of finding a donor kidney, we should be having surgery,” said Jane.
The surgery will take approximately 3 1/2 hours, she said, and Gene will be in the hospital for three to five days.
“While he’s in the hospital, he’ll only be able to have one visitor,” said Jane, “because of the possibility of rejection. Even when he’s home, we’ll have to be careful and watch what we do.”
Both the stroke and kidney failure has changed their lives.
“I think the stroke affected our lives more,” said Jane. “It affected his balance and he has to use a cane.
“The kidney failure means we can’t eat everything we did before,” she said. “Vacations are harder to plan because of dialysis. And we have to be patient waiting while we find a donor.”
Even with the medical issues they are facing, the couple remains positive.
“We’re very blessed,” said Jane. “We count our blessings every day.”
The New Knoxville residents, she said, are standing behind the family and supporting them through prayer.
“We have a great church family,” she said. “Everyone is behind us and cares for us.”
Anyone with questions about being a live donor can contact the Kucks at 419-753-2613 or OSU Wexner Medical Center at 800-293-8965, option 3.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.