Kate Cleary of New Carlisle is thankful that she can donate a kidney to her grandmother, Shirley King of Middletown. "I am not ready to lose her," she said.
...Until recently, it seemed likely that this could be Shirley King's last Thanksgiving. The 73-year-old Middletown grandmother has been in acute renal failure for more than two years. The retired nurse and her husband, Bob, spend four hours a day hooking her up to her dialysis machine at home. "I had hoped to spend retirement traveling and fishing," she lamented. "But I can't even get into a pontoon boat because I am too fragile and I tip over too easy."
Her daughter, Shari Ketchum of Middletown, was a match, but was turned down as a donor for medical reasons. It seemed that King would have to wait for a match that might never come.
Cleary did not think she could be a donor because of a rare condition, known as malignant hyperthermia, which makes her allergic to a long list of inhalant anesthesia. But the 32-year-old mother of three was not ready to lose the grandmother, who helped to raise her after her parents' divorce. "It's just not her time," she said. This, after all, is the grandmother who routinely drives an hour to attend her grandchildren's concerts and special events, the grandmother who, despite her illness, remains involved with the lives of her eight children, 24 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. "She has to ride her motorized scooter because it's hard to breathe," Cleary said.
On Nov. 15, Cleary got off the phone and called out joyfully, "I'm a match! I'm a match! I'm a match!" Next week, she'll consult with an anesthesiologist to make sure she can successfully undergo the transplant.
"I am so thankful," King said. "I'm going to get my life back."