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CTX man receives life-saving kidney donation from friend

Posted at 6:23 AM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 08:36:37-04

GATESVILLE, TX — Giving an organ could mean giving a second chance to someone's life. Thanks to a friend, Keith Steward got his second chance.

Steward has a family history of end-stage renal disease, also known as kidney failure. His father passed away when he was 52 years old due to the lack of technology.

"He just has to live with it," Steward said.

His sister also needed a kidney transplant and received one in 1982. When Steward was diagnosed with the diseases, he was 51 years old, being familiar with the disease and the process he was disheartened. Steward was diagnosed with polycistic disease meaning the kidney tissue was being replaced by cysts filled with gas or fluid.

"I wasn't shocked but disappointment," Steward said. "Although, I was accepting what the process was and what the wait was, but I had something to look forward to because I knew the success of what transplants were."

Steward had the option of dialysis which is a machine that functions similar to the kidney, but he had to be committed to completed multiple the process of dialysis multiple times a week at four hours each. Or he could be put on the transplant list.

"The kidney won't process the blood in your body properly and in other words the blood wasn't being cleaned," Steward said. "The average rate for a kidney a person waiting for a kidney on the list is 3 to 5 years. My fortune is with a living donor and the wait was only 7 months."

First, his wife was tested, once word got out that the tests came back negative one of his friends decided to try and help. They met in a bicycling group that supports organ, tissue and blood donation.

"My friend Sherry agreed to on her own volition to be tested and it turned out to be that she was virtually a perfect match," Steward said.

Only waiting 7 months before Sherry was his perfect match, he's grateful for her. When someone has a living donor like Steward the wait for a new organ is usually shorter. When someone is put on the donor list, the ones giving their organs have already past.

Steward was 53 years old when he received his second chance at life.

"To have someone out of the goodness of their heart to help a friend, it makes you very humble, knowing they are willing to give you apart of them" Steward said.

Steward and Sherry still spend time together, but now having one of her kidneys he feels more connected than ever to his friend.

"It's a feeling I can't describe," Steward said. "You need to be close to that person every once in a while, when ever we make eye contact there's a deep feeling."

Steward is now 65 years old and feeling great, he is still able to bicycle and do the things he loves. Spending time with family and seeing his grandson play baseball are some of his favorites. Steward is going 12 years strong since his transplant and ready for 12 more.