Hudson man seeks a kidney donorWayne Hansen needs a kidney – and has to find a donor himself. The 77-year-old Hudsonite skirted around the edge of kidney trouble since boyhood, but the disease finally caught up to him and he was forced into dialysis treatments three times a week starting in May 2007.
By: Jon Echternacht, Hudson Star-Observer
Wayne Hansen needs a kidney – and has to find a donor himself.
The 77-year-old Hudsonite skirted around the edge of kidney trouble since boyhood, but the disease finally caught up to him and he was forced into dialysis treatments three times a week starting in May 2007.
His doctors say Hansen is healthy enough for a kidney transplant but to receive a cadaver donor could take five years or more and put him past the safe age zone for an operation.
“For every kidney available in the United States, five people want it,” Hansen said during a recent conversation in his Hudson home. That makes a live donor the only viable possibility.
He is taking dialysis treatments in Woodbury, Minn., and dealing with the University of Minnesota Hospital on procedures for a transplant operation.
“The recipient has to find a donor,” he said. “The hospital doesn’t do that, and anybody can donate a kidney.”
He has already checked with relatives but hasn’t found a match. “He doesn’t have very many relatives,” said his wife, Betty. She would donate a kidney but her blood type doesn’t match his.
The first step is for a donor with the same blood type. Hansen has type O. “There are also six antigens to match,” he said.
With the thin pool of relatives exhausted, Hansen placed an ad in the Star-Observer in search of a donor. He said the technique worked for a person in New Richmond who needed a kidney.
“There will be no expenses to the donor,” he said. “My insurance or I will pay for the person’s expenses.”
At 6 years old, Hansen was diagnosed with Bright’s disease, a kidney condition that is described in modern medicine as acute or chronic nephritis. When he served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War the doctors raised a red flag.
“I was going to be discharged in Washington, D.C., and went for the physical. The doctor said, ‘I can’t discharge you’ because of a kidney problem.
“I said I have to get out, I’m enrolled in the University of Wisconsin in three weeks.”
Hansen said the doctor told him to drink water until he got sick. He did, and the next day he passed the final physical and was discharged from military service.
He said the University of Wisconsin raised a red flag when he took its physical as a student and ever since when he took a physical for employment.
Finally, when a kidney started failing, a doctor remarked, “You’ve danced around this thing for quite a while,” Hansen said.
Hansen grew up in Barron, where he graduated from high school in 1949. Betty graduated a year later but didn’t start dating him until he came home on leave from the Navy.
He attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., for two years before joining the Navy. After the service, he studied at UW-Madison for two and a half years and earned a degree in dairy industry.
“After milking 50 cows a day on the farm in Barron, I didn’t want to go into the production end of the dairy business,” he said. Hansen worked for Fairmont Foods for 20 years and was vice president of sales at Land-O-Lakes in Woodbury before retiring in 1995.
The couple moved to Hudson in 1986 and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in June 2006. They have three children, Diane of Hudson, Glen of Chino Hills, Calif., and David of Golden Valley, Minn.
Anyone interested in being a kidney donor should contact the donor program at the University of Minnesota Hospital, (612) 625-5115, ext. 581, and ask for Kathy or Margaret.