16-year-old to receive kidney from brother

Judy Springer of Rockford no longer needs a list of about 50 strangers who have offered to donate a kidney to her 16-year-old son, Craig.

A little more than a year after Craig was diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Failure (ESRF) on Jan. 21, 2003, the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison has found a donor for Craig—his 20-year-old brother Chad.

Craig and Chad will undergo transplant surgery Feb. 26 at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison. Chad has never had any major surgery, and doctors determined Craig must have both kidneys removed to reduce the risk of stroke. Craig’s heart has been weakened as the result of high blood pressure caused by the ESRF, leaving him at a heightened risk of stroke.

“It just happened to turn out that our oldest son was a really good match,” Springer said. “I have to look at the fact that Chad is our best match. But we were still thinking a lot about it knowing that they’ll both be in there at the same time.

“It’s nice to see light at the end of the tunnel,” she added. “It’s just like one big dark tunnel that just keeps going and going and going. I truly think Craig’s handled it a lot better than the rest of us. We’re just happy that this is a new year and everything is working better this year.”

The Springers placed a free classified ad in the May 14-20, 2003, edition of The Rock River Times looking for a kidney donor, and the ad has been running every week since. The Springers also received much local media attention, including articles in the Rockford Register Star and reports on WTVO-TV 17. Judy Springer said she received about 50 responses to all the media attention with people offering her son a kidney.

“We’ve just been putting them on hold,” Springer said. “Our transplant coordinator in Madison was overwhelmed with all of the calls they were getting because they couldn’t possibly test them all.

“All the people who called in and left their name and number and expressed interest, to me, what they did meant so much to me,” she added.

Springer said she started compiling a list of names and phone numbers in case Chad, who was in the middle of the lengthy testing process, were not a close enough match to be the donor.

Although Craig has been home schooled for the past two years, Judy said she hopes he can return to East High School next year and graduate with his friends.

“He’s really looking forward to going back to school,” Springer said. “It’s not his fault that he’s been sick for a year and a half.”

Craig’s activities have been extremely limited because of his dangerously high blood pressure. He takes four blood pressure medications, and Judy said the last one he was prescribed causes massive hair growth. Doctors aren’t sure whether Craig will have to remain on blood pressure medication after the transplant.

“I don’t know what to really anticipate out of all this,” Springer said. “I know it’s not going to be an easy road. It’s all new to me, too. I’m just praying that everything will go well, and this whole thing can end and we can be a normal family again.”

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