Jeff considers organ donors and their families heroes.
“They allow us to thrive in all of our roles in life, instead of just survive,” he said.
Jeff knows this to be true because he has received two kidneys in his life – one from a 23-year-old man who died in a car accident, and the other from his wife.
It was a bruised kidney in 1984 that took Jeff to the doctor where he’d eventually learn he had kidney disease. Twelve years later, he entered end-stage kidney failure and began dialysis. Plans to receive a kidney from his brother were halted at the last minute, and after the discovery and removal of a large tumor on his small intestine, Jeff learned that the tumor would have likely killed him had he received his brother’s kidney. So Jeff counted his blessings and accepted the fact that he’d wait several years for his transplant.
Jeff received his first transplant on Dec. 18, 1999.
“We were ecstatic for about ten seconds,” he said about learning of his gift. “Then it hit us that someone was going through a very tragic situation and we just started bawling our eyes out that someone had lost a loved one and made the decision to donate his organs.”
Jeff’s donor’s mother had respected her son’s wishes to donate his organs after he was tragically killed in a car accident.
His donor’s gift allowed Jeff to complete his master’s degree and fulfill his dream of becoming a high school science teacher – a career he enjoyed in Denver’s public school system for 13 years until he again approached end-stage kidney failure.
Even though she had not previously met the requirements, Jeff’s wife Robin was a suitable match for his second transplant thanks to advances in medical technology and she gave him a kidney in January of 2013.
Since his second transplant, health complications have led Jeff to step away from his role as high school teacher, but he still fulfills his passion for science and teaching as one of Donor Alliance’s Transplantation Science Educators. He also spends time with his college-aged daughter, volunteers for the American Transplant Foundation, and is an avid cyclist and member of Team Transplant.
“I’m a lucky person and I’m going to do all I can for the rest of my living days to help facilitate as many people getting transplants as possible.