Transplants Save Life, Twice

Not everyone gets a second chance, let alone a third chance, at life; but Mike Maker is one of the few who have had not one, but two kidney transplants. r-MikeBoston_andColleen“I certainly wouldn’t be here and healthy today if it weren’t for my two kidney donors,” Mike said. “Luckily, I had very loving and willing people in my life. I know not everyone is so lucky.”

Mike’s kidney problems began when he was still a teenager. At the time, he was having trouble walking and his legs were hurting. Investigation by doctors found that one of his kidneys had failed and the other was following suit.

“I was only 16 and I needed a transplant immediately,” he said

In July of 2002, Mike received the first kidney from his mother Fiona. It was a gift that lasted nine years until 2011 when the medications he was taking to prevent his body from rejecting the donated kidney were found to be damaging the very organ that was keeping him alive. Mike was placed on dialysis for most of 2011 when his fiancé, Colleen, stepped forward to be his second donor.

“The second one was scarier than the first; there is a lot more that can go wrong,” Mike said. “But we both recovered just fine and we were able to get married and even enjoy our happy honeymoon in Belize.”

Mike is now using his story to spread awareness about kidney disease and the need for organ donors. He and his wife both participated in the Boston Kidney Walk on October 28.

“My efforts are to raise awareness for organ donors,” Mike said. “A lot of this can be avoided if there are people willing to donate. You just have to look at me and see that transplants do save people’s lives. This is something people can do for someone else in need.”

5 thoughts on “Transplants Save Life, Twice

  1. Mike,

    I enjoyed your story very much. I do know that transplants save lives. I had a double lung transplant in Sept. 2005. Now I have been told that I have Stage III Renal Disease, so I may be facing the need for a kidney myself due to the anti-rejection drugs that I have been taking for the last 7 1/2 years.

    May you continue to be blessed and keep on spreading your story.


  2. Mike & Colleen, I can relate to your story, I have had two kidney transplants too!! My sister donated her kidney to me in 1998 & I caught the CMV virus a few months later & the kidney rejected. I had to begin dialysis in May of 1998. I rec’d my second transplant in July 2004, I have experienced what it’s like to have a second chance at life too. Your story is an inspiration to other transplant recipients.


  3. Your story is very wonderful. I too am a kidney transplant recipient. Not of one, nor two, but actually three kidney transplants.

    My parents were faced with my renal deficiency at birth. Being only three days old, I had to undergo a revision surgery to correct the ureters that had been obstructed while I was yet in the womb. This procedure allowed the proper flow of urine, however the damage to my native kidneys had already been done. On a better note, this (the procedure) would allow my native kidneys to function adequately until I reached the age of nine, at which time I received my first kidney transplant.

    In 1986, medical practices for kidney transplants were far greater than recognized today. I was hospitalized at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center for more than 50 days. During this trail, I underwent multiple testing and three surgeries, the latter being the transplant. First I had to undergo peritoneal dialysis, secondly, I had to have both native kidneys removed, and last, God be the glory, my kidney transplant. Fortunately my father was an acceptable match and became the donor. Still today, my earthly father plays a large role in my life. I speak to him nearly every day, and he still give me wisdom each time. I love you dad.

    My father’s organ would allow me to engage onward and nearly through my adolescent years, lasting until the age of 19. During those years, from age 9-19, I was fortunate to not have really any main physical issues. However it was a trying time emotionally; battling my mother’s bipolar illness’ which ultimately led to the divorce of my parents in 1991 and the effects of the medications which ranged from adolescent obesity and insomnia. However, just as I had been strong on the morning of my first transplant, sitting up on the stretcher and singing, “Thank You Lord for Your Blessing’s on Me”, I remained focused and untouchable.

    Again, on May 30, 1996 I would face the same challenges so familiar ten years earlier. But this time, things went much easier than anticipated. I did undergo hemodialysis for a period of two months, but being otherwise a healthy individual, I quickly received the call that an organ had been matched. A local family, being from Tullahoma, TN had been gracious to donate a young family member’s organ which would sustain my life another five years. As stated before, I remained focused during this time, and throughout the ordeal, I managed to graduate high school, get my first public job, and even while yet receiving hemodialysis treatments, successfully accomplished nearly two years of college education. The earlier side effects from the medication had somewhat ended and was helped with proper nutrition, however the prolonged use of Prednisone, had caused Avascular Necrosis.

    In 1999 I underwent a total hip replacement on my left hip. After walking to on campus and working for nearly two years, I was greatly relieved of pain. For prior, I had been walking with a limp that had been caused of the hip joint shift from the bone collapse. As always, being strong willed, I pressed onward. Over the next few years from 1999 – 2001, I continued to work and help to support my ill mother which never really recovered from yet another mental breakdown following my parents’ divorce. I knew than just as I know now, that indeed, I did sacrifice a large part of my young adulthood for doing so, but she was my mother. And if asked if I would change that fact if given the chance, I would reply with a no. This afternoon, I visit and checked on my mother. I love you mom.

    Moving on, in 2001 I would undergo my third transplant. What a miraculous adventure. I had been ill for some time, dealing with blood pressure issues and whatnot. During the summer, I had underwent a revision procedure to re-open a hemodialysis access graft, and I can recall even while working as a cashier in my hometown of Albany, Kentucky, I tried hiding the bandage. Of course there was really nothing to hide, for in a small town, everyone knows everything about you. :).

    On December 24, 2001, the day that has ever changed my life, I received a phone call at approximately 1:00 am from a nephrologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Unfortunately I do not recall his name, however I recall his tears. Through his voice I could feel the power of God. He made clear that I had been blessed beyond what any medical procedure could ever envision. A perfectly matched organ awaited me. I later learned, that God had called a young child home the prior evening that had lived in Montana. Unknowing to his family his perfectly matched organ, would be whisked away to Tennessee, and would allow a strong-willed, determined young man, yet a third chance of life.

    On December 25, 2001, I would arrive in Nashville, Tennessee, to embark upon a journey that I had never imagined. Within 7 days of receiving this gift from God, I would re-enter the on goings of my life, a changed man. A man that was grateful beyond any other young man his age. A man that knew God had seen his future and that God alone would carry him into the best days of his life.

    In 2006 I relocated to Tennessee. Over the past 11 years I have given my all in every challenge. To live the most of each day, giving and doing more with no bounds. One day I shall question myself, “Have I did to little?” I will answer with this…”I have done everything, each opportunity to the best of my ability, and to the fullest given to me by the mercy and grace of God. And of course, by the means given to me by wonderful and loving individuals that just as God has always known, came to know me and took the time to invest into my being. That their fruitfulness of knowledge would be ever engraved into a young man, that one day, will be given the chance to give back.

    Moving to current times of my life…

    Most recently, I finally acquired what many thought, including myself would never be attained. I graduated Magna Cum Laude and earned an A.A.S. in Residential Design from Pellissippi State Community College located in Knoxville, Tennessee. Yes to some, that was several years to make possible, but I say to them, be given three chances at life, and ask yourself, what can you acquire? Indeed I have had my trials, and yes, I have been blessed. However I must give myself praise, because I never gave up. And as long as I am given the chance or opportunity to continue on a successful journey at life, I’ll continue to fight.

    On that note, I have met many people in my life, and most have been very supportive and loving. But I must add what may seem to some a small detail, but to me, is the most grateful blessing of all. Of course, first my dad. For he has always been there for me, including my recent graduation, where I could read in his eyes, that he was very proud of his son. I’m proud of me too dad. But I must thank a family, a family that I have been given the chance to know, and come to love. They know they have played an important part in my life, and I will be forever thankful for them. And yes, most do not know what a lot of my life means, but know this, I am a strong-willed, determined and a successful individual. Sure, perhaps not of fame, nor of politics, but of life itself.

    I dedicate this to my ever caring support and family. You know who you are. And although my tears may sometimes fall, my work, my efforts, my patronage, and my love will ever be for you.

    The conclusion to this: “Always keep your head up and show your smile. Always keep faith for God will keep you well. Never lose initiative, for it’s what drives and urges each of us to press onward.”

    • Your journey is very inspiring!! It’s nice to hear from people that have the experiences that we have in common, I wish you the very best & may you continue to be blessed!

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