L-R: Ronald Kleppel, Cindy Martin (friend), Scott Dobrovolny, Kathy Kleppel
SSC would like to share this remarkable story. The below article was written and printed by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). Kathy Kleppel, wife of SSC Safety Coordinator Ronald Kleppel, gave the incredible gift of a kidney to an acquaintance, Scott Dobrovolny, who is employed by TTI. Read more about this incredible act of kindness below!
Research Specialist Scott Dobrovolny woke up after surgery November 28, feeling better than he’d felt in a decade. Surgeons had just transplanted a kidney from a living donor, who was recovering from her kidney removal surgery at the same Dallas hospital.
Scott, 55, a 34-year employee at TTI, was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease 32 years ago. It’s the same disease his 48-year-old sister died from and that his father had before his death from leukemia in 1989.
Scott was placed on a transplant list six years ago. For the last five years, he’s had to self- administer kidney dialysis through an 8-foot long tube. It was a crucial, eleven-hour procedure he had to do each night before bed.
During the last year, however, his condition had worsened. It became a struggle for him to go to work each day. Doctors told Scott that, compared to healthy human beings, he had the functionality of only about one-eighth of one kidney. “He was trying to act normally, but you could tell he was exhausted,” Chiara Dobrovolny, Scott’s wife, explains. “I think his work was what kept him going.”
And then, on September 4—out of the blue—a call came from an acquaintance that would change the rest of Scott’s life. Kathy Kleppel, the owner of Bullfrogs and Butterflies, the daycare attended by his two young daughters, offered to donate one of her kidneys.
“I called him and told him I wanted to get tested to see if I was a match,” Kleppel says of her decision. “I’m lucky to still have my father, and I want his two girls to have their dad in their lives. He is such a loving and caring father. I prayed about it, researched it, spoke to my family about it, and I felt that this was what I needed to do. You could tell Scott was getting sicker. You could see it.”
The three-hour surgery was a success, and the donor kidney immediately restored Scott’s skin coloring. His creatinine levels were back to normal after years of being dangerously high. Scott will have to stay close to the hospital for six weeks for monitoring. He’ll take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life and was warned not to eat sushi or under cooked meats. Otherwise, he’s expected to have a normal life.
“This has been an unbelievably emotional experience for me and my family. I don’t know what I did to deserve this,” he says of Kleppel’s generosity.
According to the National Kidney Foundation: • Over 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney waiting list each month. • In 2014, 17,107 kidney transplants took place in the United States. Of these, 11,570 came from deceased donors and 5,537 came from living donors.
•13 people die each day while waiting on a lifesaving kidney transplant.
“I want people to understand that it’s okay to give life while you are still living,” Kleppel explains. “Something put Scott and his family in my path. This was meant to be.”
Days after surgery, Scott — through tears — says he remains worried about his donor.
“She put her life on the line for me. How do you ever thank someone for doing something like this?
Now I have a future. And I can’t wait to get back to work.”