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Medina man among many waiting for kidney transplant in New York

Posted 2 May 2018 at 9:17 am

Jack Wheatley has been on dialysis for two years

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Jack Wheatley of Medina is one of 10,000 in New York state who is awaiting a kidney transplant. Here he is shown with his nurses, Abigail Roberts and Dorothy Nolan, both certified clinical hemodialysis technicians, and his wife Sherry, after being hooked up for dialysis, a procedure which takes 3 1/2 to 4 hours three times a week.

MEDINA – Jack Wheatley is playing a waiting game – one he hopes will end soon with a healthy kidney.

Wheatley must undergo dialysis three times a week while he waits for a donor for a kidney. Wheatley is one of 120,000 people nationwide waiting for an organ transplant.

In New York alone, more than 10,000 people are awaiting organs, according to Donate Life in New York.

Wheatley has been on dialysis for two years, according to his wife, the former Sherry Lanning of Albion.

She wishes there was a way to make more people aware of the need for organ donors.

Jack’s condition stems from having systemic lupus for the last 30 years. He has been on steroids, which beats his body up, Sherry said.

The couple’s love story began four decades ago. He was a patient at the dentist’s office where she works, and it was love at first sight.

“I fell on my desk and said, ‘Who is that guy,’ and he went home and told his mom he had met this girl,” Sherry said.

They’ve been married 38 years.

“It’s pretty hard to watch someone you love go through this and not feel good all the time,” Sherry said of her husband’s wait for an organ donor. “It’s not about being unable to go on fancy vacations. It just about being able to sit at home, holding hands and watching TV, knowing he feels good.”

Jack started his dialysis at home, but had to go to Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo three days a week after developing a hernia. He is now able to have dialysis at Lake Plains Dialysis in Medina, but the procedure still takes a toll on him.

“Your body feels like it’s running a marathon, and you just crash,” Sherry said. “The next day you feel better, then it’s time to start again. It feels like having the flu all the time.”

She said if they want to go on vacation, they have to find a dialysis center close by, and then Jack’s not going to feel good afterwards.

Jack finally had to give up his job at NAPA in Albion, but still tries to work a few hours a day at NAPA in Medina.

“That just killed him to have to quit working in Albion,” Sherry said. “He doesn’t have a lot of hobbies to occupy his time like I do.”

Doctors told the Wheatleys they have to be creative about ways to find a donor and they hope someone reading this article may consider being tested.

Laurie Joslyn, director of renal services at Lake Plains Dialysis, said they have 40 patients on dialysis three times a week.

“There is an extreme need for donors,” Joslyn said. “I have six patients on the transplant list. Some of my patients have been coming for years, and one has been on the transplant list since this facility opened more than 30 years ago.”

A person can register to be an organ donor on the website www.donatelifeny.

The site also reports another person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes, and 22 people die each day because the organ they need is not donated in time. One organ, eye and tissue donor can save and heal more than 75 lives.

It is reported 90 percent of Americans are in favor of being a donor, but only 30 percent know where to register.

In addition to registering at the above website, a person may also indicate on their driver’s license they wish to be an organ donor.

Someone wishing to be tested as a match for Jack may call the Wheatley’s at (585) 798-3358, or the Transplant Center at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

A person needing a kidney transplant does not have to wait for a cadaver, as a live donor can safely survive with one kidney. And there is no expense to the donor.

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