Perhaps, the greatest sacrifice of all, son Nick Kaczorowski is donating one of his kidneys to save the life of his 55-year-old father, Lance. The father who has end-stage renal disease, learned his kidney function had completely shut down leaving him with only three options for survival: undergo dialysis treatments three times a week, wait for a cadaver kidney transplant, or find a suitable match from a living donor. The family had a major decision to make.
Fortunately, Lance Kaczorowski didn’t have to make these daunting decisions alone. His 27-year-old son and his two younger daughters had already decided to step up for their dad.
As Nick put it, how could he not at least try? “I couldn’t imagine going through life without him here, and doing this hopefully means I don’t have to worry about that anytime soon,” Nick said.
Dialysis does not require surgery, however, it ultimately means a compromised quality of life, having to spend 12 extra hours out of his schedule – while he already has to devote 40 hours to his job in Tucson, Arizona, as a mechanical engineer – to rely on a dialysis machine to perform the work of his kidneys.
However, in comparison, opting for a kidney donation may mean a better quality of life for him, though the wait for a cadaver kidney could take up to five years with him dependant on the dialysis machine.
As a biological son, he already has a 50% match of his father’s DNA. Sharing the same blood type gave them the green light they needed to pursue months of further testing, which later proved him to be a suitable match for the transplant. “Also I’m male, so I’ll never get pregnant,” he joked. “Donating a kidney can have some risk factors associated with getting pregnant and having kids later on, though nothing severe.”
As male kidneys tend to be physically larger, his gender and genetics definitely worked to his advantage for being “first in line.” His sisters were happily waiting next in line, though, should the testing not result in their brother’s favor as a match. They had even considered an organ exchange program should they prove to be a match despite having incompatible blood types.
In essence, they would offer their compatible kidneys to another patient whose loved ones were also incompatible matches, and in turn their compatible loved ones would donate a kidney to Lance.
Nick, a software developer living in Salt Lake City, and his youngest sister Angela, a registered nurse, began researching the details of organ donation, knowing full well, and genuinely hoping, they could be the one to ultimately share one of their kidneys with their dad.
At first their father and their mother, Kathy, were reluctant to have one of their children undergo the surgery, but soon came to see the heart behind the motivation. “My initial reaction was ‘No, he’s my little baby boy. No, don’t cut him open,’ ” his mother told CNN affiliate KVOA. “But at the same time I didn’t want to lose my husband. He’s been my best friend for 28 years.”
‘We’ve always been close’
“My two little sisters are some of my best friends and my dad is the person I trust the most with advice. We’re still really tight-knit though we’re all dispersed,” he said.
After growing out of the inevitably uncomfortable teenage years Nick began to see his father differently through his own adult eyes. Increasingly, he realized that he wanted to have him around for a lot longer than his current kidneys could allow.
Already alike in so many ways, theirs is a bond that continues from followed footsteps to sharing identical kidneys. “Sometimes you have to accept a gift for the other person to receive the blessings from that giving. After years of giving to your kids, sometimes they get an opportunity to turn around and give back,” his father told KVOA.