<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-35213" src="https://mdthinks.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/living-donor-kidney-transplant-cements-brothers-bond.jpg" alt=" Still growing up, a successful kidney donation and transplant strengthened the bond between siblings Jim Von Holtum and Greg Vaske. "Width =" 805 "height =" 453 "/>
Still growing up, a successful kidney donation and transplant strengthened the bond between siblings Jim Von Holtum and Greg Vaske.
Jim von Holtum is the third youngest and youngest child of a mixed family of eight siblings. His half-brother Greg Vaske was already 13 when his little brother was born. Greg had gone to college just when Jim was old enough to start kindergarten in Worthington, Minnesota, where they grew up.
Yet, the two boys shared a special connection. They had the same sense of humor and the same relaxed attitude. They both had an interest in the sport. Greg played a lot of quick softball, and Jim liked to follow. He served as a bat boy and traveled with the team when they had tournaments out of the city. The brothers also spent time fishing together. When Jim was in high school, he was the main babysitter for Greg's kids.
"In a big family where everyone hears very well, you do not have a favorite, but you tend to have more in common with some than others," says Jim. "It was just always the case with Greg and me."
Five years ago, the bond between the brothers was further strengthened when Jim needed a kidney transplant . Greg was a match, and a successful live donor kidney transplant to Mayo Clinic gave the brothers and sisters an experience that they both now cherish.
The Invincibility of Youth
Jim was 33 when he had problems with his kidney. An episode of severe illness and dehydration sent him to the hospital, where MRI showed cysts in his kidney. The doctors recommended that Jim consult an urologist.
But like many men in their twenties and thirties, Jim believed that he was invincible. Instead of seeing a urologist, Jim worked to rehydrate, started to feel better and returned to life as usual.
"Young and stupid is a very good way to describe my attitude at the time," Jim said. "I thought," It can not be as serious as what they say, it'll be fine. ""
"Young people and idiots are a very good way to describe my attitude at the time, I thought," It can not be as bad as what they say, I'll be fine. "Jim Von Holtum
He was not well, but it was going to take a few years before he realized how sick he was. It was only in 2008 that a routine screening as part of a life insurance application determined what Jim described as "astronomical" blood pressure. ". This scared him enough to entice a return visit to his doctor, where he was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease .
After that, Jim saw a specialist and had regular meetings with an urologist. When his renal function was so deteriorated that he had to consider dialysis the doctors sent him to the Rochester Campus of the Mayo Clinic for a consultation. Jim never had dialysis but continued to visit Mayo for about a year and a half, until he was eligible for a transplant.
A wealth of potential donors
Finding a donor might have been the easiest part of the transplant process for Jim. All seven brothers and sisters came forward to be tested. At first, Jim was certain that one of his sisters, who is close to Jim and who has similar physical traits, would be the best. However, Jim learned that these factors are not as significant as he thought in terms of transplant compatibility.
"The fact that we have only one parent in common and that we are compatible is simply a miracle for me." – Jim Von Holtum
"I think it was actually one of the least compatible matches of the family," Jim said.
It turned out that Greg was a better fit. Despite their age difference and having only one common biological parent, an evaluation of the transplant showed that Greg was Jim's best partner.
"The fact that we have only one parent in common and that we are compatible is simply a miracle for me," says Jim.
A state of health found again
Transplantation and kidney donation surgeries went well for Greg and Jim. Subsequently, Jim's care team told him that he would feel better quickly. But he did not realize until he had recovered how much his sick kidney was slowing him down. Although he was an active child growing up, pain and pains were part of his routine over the years. He had blamed those symptoms as he got older.
"Over the years, my insomnia has become miserable," he says. "I could not sleep at all, it was only a daily occurrence and part of my daily life, I did not know it could be different for me."
Immediately after his transplantation, Jim stayed at the Life Transplant House a facility in Rochester that provides transplant patients and their caregivers with an affordable place to live while they are being treated. At home, patients are surrounded by other people who are experiencing the same experience. It was a resource that Jim really appreciated.
"I go back to Worthington and people say," You look good. "Usually when people say that you look good it's because you've lost weight, but not in my case!" – Jim von Holtum
Since his transplant, Jim is a new man. He quickly returned to a level of health that he had almost forgotten. He has more energy and feels better. In the absence of visible signs or persistent side effects of kidney disease or transplantation, Jim remains active in playing basketball and golf.
His renewed health and vigor also manifest themselves in other ways. At over six feet four, Jim had never been able to gain weight. On the day of his transplant, he weighed 168 pounds. These days, it hovers around 212 pounds. His face is no longer emaciated and, for the first time in his life, he has been able to gain and maintain a healthy weight.
"It's great," he says. "I go back to Worthington and people say," You look good. "Usually when people say that you look good it's because you've lost weight, but not in my case!"
For Greg, there was never any question of giving his kidney to his brother. He would have done the same for any of his brothers and sisters, he says, and he is confident that they would do the same for him. Greg had to take a month off after the transplant. But he says that if he did not have the scar, he would not know that he had already been operated on.
A connection through the miles
Jim and Greg have been separated by many miles in recent times. Jim is vice president of the bank in Brainerd, Minnesota, and Greg, a railroad driver, lives in Omaha, Nebraska. But that did not weaken their bond.
And although there were jokes before the operation on what the transplant could mean for the brothers' respective golf games, they still took the transplant itself seriously.
"I was hoping it would take my left edge," Greg says. "He strikes straight, and I slice him again."
The brothers are always close and talk regularly. If anything has changed, Jim says, it is that they are making more efforts to tell themselves what they feel.
"I would say that we are both better at saying" I like you than we were before, "he says. "You're just more aware when you go through something like that, it's more of a conscious effort on both sides than you know you need to do, and you can not let things go called. "