Gordon Storey has a story to tell. It is a story of true friendship and perseverance against difficult obstacles. It is a story of heartache and joy.
Gordon Storey is a retired minister. In his ministerial postings he has served in many churches. One of these churches is located in Mt. Shasta, California. If you have ever traveled north on Interstate 5 to Oregon, you have passed by majestic Mt. Shasta. You may have blinked and missed its small town namesake.
While in Mt. Shasta, Gordon and his wife, Linda came to know and became friends with a couple in the congregation. They did many things together while Gordon and Linda were in Mt. Shasta. They continued to correspond and remained friends after Gordon was transferred to another church in Visalia, California. They have known each other for more than 30 years. We will call this couple Dianne and David.
While in Visalia, Gordon visited his doctor and was found to have extremely high blood pressure. This was new and somewhat alarming to him as he was in decent shape and had never previously had a high blood pressure reading. His doctor ordered additional tests and the tests revealed that Gordon had failing kidneys and suffered from polycystic kidney disease (PKD). There is no cure for PKD, one can only treat the symptoms.
One of the first things that the doctor recommended was a complete change of diet for Gordon, eliminating many of his favorite foods. He says that for nine years he has lived on “snowflakes and pine needles.” He has lost 25 pounds while on this diet, but it is not one he recommends to anyone else.
The news of Gordon’s condition eventually made its way to Mt. Shasta. Here comes the part about true friendship. David and Dianne heard that Gordon needed a new kidney and David said, “I am going to get tested to see if I can be a donor.” As it turns out, he was a match for Gordon on all 6 of the boxes that needed to be checked off. As you can imagine, Gordon was overwhelmed by the offer of life from his friend. When he was asked about why he was willing to give up one of his kidneys, David said “That’s what friends do. He needs it and I have it to give.”
All of the testing happened more than a year ago. Two weeks prior to surgery, it was discovered that David and Dianne had visited Costa Rica earlier that year. Costa Rica is in the Zika virus zone and this news put the doctors into a quandary. They didn’t know if exposure to the Zika virus would have an adverse effect on the transplant. They checked with the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. They didn’t know, either. Exercising caution, they postponed the surgery until a determination could be made one way or the other about whether David carried the virus. Here comes the perseverance part.
While waiting for clearance on Zika, Gordon was diagnosed with a lump that was unrelated to his PKD. He had the lump checked, underwent six months of tests and had surgery to have the lump removed. While going through all of this, the transplant surgeons closed his transplant case because of potential cancer. The tests for cancer came back negative. The lump was removed and was determined to be non-cancerous. That didn’t seem to matter to the transplant team. That’s the heartache part.
Gordon petitioned to have his case re-opened. The answer was no. He kept at it, sending data and test results, etc., to the transplant team. He heard that UC Davis Medical Center was the leading kidney transplant hospital in the country and approached them. Finally, after all this time, somebody said “Yes. We have reviewed your case and we think we can do this.” Gordon says that getting a case re-opened is nearly impossible and almost never happens. His perseverance paid off.
Gordon and Linda both say that this has been a very expensive journey for them, even with insurance. “Finding inexpensive lodging at Kiwanis Family House is an amazing blessing”, said Linda. “We have a kitchen to use and brought our own food (snowflakes and pine needles). We don’t have to worry about driving or parking at night.” Gordon agrees (smart husband that he is).
The moral of this story? Take care of your friends, you never know when one of them will save your life. And never, ever, give up.
Postscript: The transplant surgery was successful (the joyous part). David is back in Mt. Shasta, doing well. Gordon and Linda are traveling to and from Visalia to UC Davis Medical Center for checkups and have future reservations to stay at Kiwanis Family House. Life is good.