Man ready to donate kidney to his son

By Jenni Vincent
Staff Writer
Posted 4/24/07

DAPHNE — There’s no denying that the last few months have been hard for Gina and Steve Day.

First, it was learning that their 31-year-old son, John, was in renal failure and needed a kidney transplant.

Then, came the stress of family …

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Man ready to donate kidney to his son


DAPHNE — There’s no denying that the last few months have been hard for Gina and Steve Day.

First, it was learning that their 31-year-old son, John, was in renal failure and needed a kidney transplant.

Then, came the stress of family testing as a possible donor was sought for their son.

The light at the end of the tunnel proved to be Steve, who doctors determined to be a perfect match for his son.

But that was only the beginning, since Steve still had to undergo numerous tests — physical and psychological — to determine if he would be allowed to donate a kidney.

That’s all in the past and the Days are anxiously awaiting word on a surgery date from doctors at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta.

As things currently stand, the transplant — from father to son — may occur in May, Steve Day said.

“This is what I want to do for my son and I want to do it as soon as possible, because he needs my help,” he said. “It’s been a series of hurdles to get to this point and I’ve been through them all. I’m ready.”

Gina Day said doctors believe that John’s kidney problems began to develop when he was 11 years old and had strep throat.

“From that infection he developed glomerulonephritis, which is a rare immune complex disease. But he also recovered from that and also had normal kidney function,” she said.

But last year, that all changed.

“Last April, John had another strep throat infection and he had blood tests which ultimately revealed that his kidney function was only at 20 percent,” Gina Day said.

Although the past year has been complicated with efforts to locate a donor, there is some good news.

Just the fact that John is healthy enough to continue living — and working — without having to be on dialysis is significant, Steve Day said.

He’s a computer consultant, living and working in the Atlanta area.

“It’s just so important that we can get this surgery done before he does have to go on dialysis,” Steve Day said.

Friends, neighbors and especially their church family at Daphne United Methodist have all been an important part of getting through the past year, the couple said.

One healing-ministry service still evokes particularly strong memories.

“It involved the laying-on of hands on Steve, as a donor and as a proxy for John,” Gina Day said.

“That was powerful because the prayers were very focused. And we could feel the Holy Spirit, there was no doubt,” she said.

Church members have been there in both good and bad times, Gina Day said.

“Like the time recently at our Wednesday night supper, after we’d found out that it was down to only having to set a date for the surgery,” she said.

“Our pastor praised the Lord for our news and then said a prayer on our family’s behalf.”

Faith has gotten them through and will continue to guide them, Gina Day said.

“One of the ways I’ve gotten through this is to know that John is in God’s hands and that the transplant is also going to be in God’s hands.”

Sharing their story is one way to give back for the blessings their family has received, Steve Day said.

“It’s important to not only agree to be an organ donor, but also let your family know about your desire,” he said.

“There’s just no telling how much good one person can do.”


By Jenni Vincent

Staff Writer

DAPHNE — Kidney problems or not, life goes on for John Day.

It’s not that he isn’t concerned about his health, or that he’ll soon be having kidney transplant surgery.

It’s more about Day’s personal philosophy; the way he chooses to approach life.

Take his reaction upon learning that he was in renal failure.

Or the fact that he’s not yet had to go on dialysis.

“Even I have to say it did come as quite a surprise to find out that I had a really serious kidney problem, especially since all of my symptoms were silent ones,” Day said in a telephone interview from his suburban Atlanta home.

“But I’ve always tended to look at things differently than most,” he said. “So when the doctors told me the situation, I just wanted to know where we go from here because I’ve always been a realist and very pragmatic.”

His positive, can-do attitude may help explain why he hasn’t had to go on dialysis despite his failing kidneys.

“The doctors have even said that they think a positive attitude helps a huge amount in a situation like this,” Day said.

“Because it really defies all of the rules of nature that I’m not already on dialysis.”

It may also account for his ability to go on with life — pretty much as normal, except for some occasional tiredness, he said.

For example, he’s still working full time as a computer consultant and pursuing one of his favorite hobbies, sailing, especially in Mobile Bay during local visits with his parents.

Even the predicted four-week recuperation period following surgery isn’t worrying Day.

“I’m young, just 31 years old, plus I’m a fast healer, so I think it will go well,” Day said.

He’s so optimistic that he’s already making post-op plans, too.

Day has been wanting to go to Europe and feels that would be a great way to celebrate after the transplant surgery.

“And after all that my dad has done for me, I just might take him with me. Who knows?” Day said. “He really deserves something special, because he is a very kind person who always gives a lot to others,

“And this is a lot to ask from any volunteer, even if that person is a family member.”

A celebration is in order, he said, especially since his father’s kidney has been deemed by doctors to be a perfect match, he said.

Some recent studies have shown that this type of identical match/transplant may ultimately result in his having to take fewer rejection drugs, Day said.

But at least one thing has changed for Day: his awareness of the urgent need for organ donors.

“It turns out that there are kidney donation centers all over Atlanta, where you can drop off used items and clothing to be used for fundraising. But before all of this, I never even saw them,” Day said.

“Now, my eyes have been totally opened, And you better believe that later on, if I can help someone else, I will,” he said.

Editor’s note: “New Lease on Life” is a continuing series featured exclusively in the Daphne Bulletin.

In next Wednesday’s article, Daphne resident Bill Dobbins owes his life to a successful, third kidney transplant.