Man in need of kidney finds potential donor

Posted at 10:55 PM, Mar 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-11 00:49:59-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- In an earlier story Fox 13 covered a man’s search for a kidney donor, and now that man has found someone willing to give a life-saving organ.

James Humphreys has lived with the knowledge that his kidneys are dying for the last five months.

“When he said I was sick it was kind of mind numbing,” he said. “I was at 13 percent kidney function [and] had no idea there was anything wrong with me.”

Humphreys raced through all of the tests and paperwork necessary to get approved for a kidney transplant, but his life was dependent on the kindness of others.

“Prospects are good only if there are people willing to say, ‘I’ll be tested,’” he said. “And I've been fortunate that a number of people are coming forward to do so.”

Fuad Shihab runs the University of Utah kidney transplant program and he said Humphreys is lucky to be in Utah—Utahns donate organs at a rate far above the national average.

“We are luckier here in the state of Utah than we are in other places in this country,” Sahib said.

Humphreys’ friend Patrick Buckendorf has agreed to donate a kidney. Buckendorf said he is happy to help.

“His kidneys are failing, and of course he's a real good friend of mine, so anything I can do to help, that's just the type of person I am,” he said.

Buckendorf said he had no idea how the donation process worked prior to volunteering.

“It's actually a lot more extensive than I originally thought it would be,” he said. “You have to fill out some forms and send those in and then go in for labs, and then more labs, more labs, tests, lots of different things.”

Buckendorf is a college friend of Humphreys, and he has a wife and 3-year-old son. He said he’s thought a lot about his decision.

“I could hold off in the abstract idea that a family member or someone that I'm closer to than James might need it in the future,” he said. “But I'm doing that at the cost of James' life.”

Buckendorf still needs to be approved for the organ donation, but if he gets the green light he will face a major surgery and six weeks of rehabilitation.

“It might be a little bit inconvenient for me, but in the long run I think it'll be worth it,” he said.

Humphreys said he respects those who choose to donate organs, and he is grateful for their kindness.

“It's very humbling to think that anyone would be that generous,” he said. “That people would be willing to put themselves in harms way to ensure that I have a chance at living a full and normal life.”

People can donate livers or kidneys while still living, but more than 100,000 people do not have that opportunity. Shihab said those who seek to donate must meet strict requirements.

“They do have to go through a very stringent evaluation,” he said. “They shouldn’t be hypertensive, diabetic or have major risk factors."

Humphreys decided to share his story in an effort to encourage more people to donate organs while living. He said he didn’t do it to get a donation for himself, but rather he hopes others in need can get the help they require.