Meet Jon: Jon's first memories were made in a hospital at age 3 when one of his kidneys failed. It was removed, and the doctors at the time told Jon's mother that he could live a full life with one kidney. At age 40, his remaining kidney failed after Jon was ill with strep throat during the previous Winter. This was a very rare strain of strep throat that can cause organ failure. His kidney failure was not caused by his lifestyle or actions. There was nothing he could have done to prevent his kidney failure. This could happen to anyone. Thank God that it is very rare.
He was life-flighted from Leadville, Co, where he and his wife, Amanda, were living in September 2007, after a Leadville doctor performed blood tests that indicated that Jon was close to death. The doctors and nurses at St. Anthony's Central Hospital in Denver told Jon and Amanda that if he had waited any longer to seek medical help, he probably would have passed away one night in his sleep.
Since his initial diagnosis of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) in September 2007, Jon has been a dialysis patient. Every other day since his initial hospitalization he has been enduring 4-5 hour long hemodialysis treatments. He has bravely completed 2,002 of these treatments over the last 12 years. The choices for ESRD patients are fairly limited: go on dialysis, wait for a kidney transplant, or simply fade away.
Hemodialysis is a very grueling process in which the patient is connected to a machine by needles and tubing. The machine acts as a kidney. It filters out the toxins and excess water out of the blood so the patient can continue living. But the quality of life of the patient is reduced considerably. Dialysis is not equal to having a functioning kidney, and the complications can lead to death. Because Jon's kidney failure was caused by strep throat, and not an underlying illness, he is healthy enough to qualify for kidney transplantation.