Son donates kidney to father, both doing well

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 12/15/98.

Steve Loesch, 37, Lake Henry, knew someday he might need a kidney transplant. He was born with Alport Syndrome, a genetic kidney disorder. The disorder did not appear until five years ago.

This Christmas the Loesch family has something to celebrate. Son Chris, 18, was able to donate a kidney to his father. The surgery was done on Nov. 9 at Hennepin County Medical Center in the Twin Cities and both are home now, getting back to a normal lifestyle.

ďIn 1979, I had a kidney biopsy because they found blood in my urine. However, it didnít show anything,Ē Steve said. ďDoctors werenít too concerned about my kidney. But I was required to keep having periodic blood tests to keep a check on the creatinine level.Ē

He has been having yearly physical exams to keep an eye on his creatinine level. Five years ago the level reached 2.1 and at that point his local doctor transferred him to specialist at the St. Cloud CentraCare Clinic. Since that time, the creatinine level has been slowly creepigng up, Loesch said.

Loesch explained once the creatinine level reached four, he was placed on a donor waiting list. That level was reached last spring.

Loesch was told by doctors the average person is on the donor list two years before a compatible kidney donor is found.

Chris volunteered to donate a kidney to help his father out.

When Chris was tested, they found he was almost a perfect match. Father and son were the same blood types. Doctors wanted to do the surgery last spring. Steve wanted to wait until fall when the majority of the farm work was completed and there wouldnít be as many chores for others to do.

Steveís wife, Mary, was also tested and it was found she could also have been a donor.

Steve said he didnít have any concerns before the surgery date, all he had to do was show up. But Chris, on the other hand, had to do test after test to ensure his dadís body wouldnít reject his kidney. ďThey drew a lot of blood,Ē Chris said.

The doctors did an arterialgram on Chris to see how many veins needed to be cut before they could remove the kidney. ďThe major veins were rerouted to my remaining kidney,Ē Chris said.

The doctors used a relatively new procedure to remove Chrisí kidney, a laparscopic surgery. ďThey removed my kidney through a small incision below my belly button and sucked out the left kidney,Ē Chris said.

The surgery was done on Monday, Nov. 9, and Chris went home on Wednesday, Nov. 11. Steve remained in the hospital until Nov. 13 and then stayed with a brother-in-law in Shakopee as doctors wanted him to stay close to the hospital in case there were any problems.

ďI talked them into letting me go home soon after that because everything was going so well. I was feeling great,Ē Steve said.

Steve will be on anti-rejection drugs and others for the rest of his life. Steve has to have blood tests done three times a week to ensure that his body isnít rejecting the kidney and that any infections havenít set in. ďOnce a week I drive to St. Cloud for the tests, and twice a week to the Twin Cities. Iím hoping theyíll let me cut back to once a week soon,Ē Loesch said.

He also has to make visits to the post transplant clinic after three, six, nine and 12 months following the surgery.

ďI didnít feel any different about what had taken place until now. I never thought much about it beforehand, but the impact of what took place is stronger now.Ē

Chris is pretty much back to doing everything he did before. ďI canít do sit ups or lift heavy weights, yet,Ē Chris added.

Steve is hoping that by Christmas vacation, he can go back to work on the farm. He has been helping Chris with a few little chores around the barn that donít require any lifting.

The Loeschís reduced their dairy herd to 40 cows in preparation for the surgery. Pat Schleper and Richard and Joyce Loesch did the farm chores while the two men were in the hospital.

The family feels they have a lot to be thankful for this Christmas.

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