After 2 decades of kidney disease and several years of dialysis, Gloria received the gift of life through a paired kidney exchange.
IgA Nephropathy turned Andrew's life upside down and moved him thousands of miles. But thanks to a kidney donor, Andrew has a healthy life and a future.
In the mid to late 1990s, Andrew Wheeler was living his dream – working a career in radio and TV while living in a “cute little apartment right by the beach” on the island of Guam. He was surrounded by good friends, had met the lady who is now his wife, and was busy with charities, events, and concerts. Then, in 1999, Andrew faced an unexpected challenge. IgA Nephropathy is a chronic kidney disease that is progressive, and a person can live with it for decades. In 1999, Andrew’s doctor informed him that he was suffering from it. Then, in September 2020, his kidneys failed.
As we all know, 2020 was the worst possible time to experience a health crisis. While the world was in the grip of a global pandemic, Andrew was locked down at home in Guam. He says, “I could feel myself losing strength, weight, and morale.” To complicate things, Guam has no active transplant program. “We had to uproot our lives and move to The States. Once we got here, I began the lengthy process of getting on the [transplant waiting] list. I was hopeful but also wasn’t too sure of my chances given what the average wait times looked like.”
On a July day in 2022, Andrew pulled into his driveway returning from the store when his phone rang. “Nurse Laura from Legacy [Transplant Services] called. She said, ‘We found you a kidney,’ and I immediately started crying.
Andrew recognizes that he has received one of the most remarkable gifts that it’s possible to receive – life. “I have been given a second life, and I will do my best to make it a good one.” When asked how transplant has changed his life, he thoughtfully explains, “My life before kidney failure was pretty great, but since my transplant my life is even better and has more meaning. I am stronger than I have been for probably twenty years, and I am in the best shape of my life.”
More than a year after his kidney transplant, Andrew wants to pay forward the gift he’s been given. One way he does this is by sharing his story to inspire others. “I do not know what my future holds, but the fact I even have a future is because of my donor. I will never forget that, and I will spend my new life trying to help others.”
If you’re considering becoming a donor, Andrew wants you to know: “One selfless act can save lives and change many more. Your legacy will live on in the people you save and the lives they touch along the way.”