Father’s Day has a special meaning for Outlive Yourself Foundation supporter Larry Brunell and his son, Adam. In August of 2014, Adam donated his right kidney to extend the life of his father, who was 62 years old at the time.
The gift of life that Adam gave has allowed Larry to continue living a normal life.
Larry has been a diabetic for over 48 years, but only discovered he had a kidney problem when he took a functional creatine test in 2011. The results of that test prompted his physician to refer Larry to a kidney specialist. He was told he either needed a transplant for his kidneys or dialysis.
“So many people need kidneys and there are so few donors,” Larry said. “At that time both of my kidneys were only functioning at less than 20 percent — and that continued to decline to 5 percent functionality! I would come home from work and take little naps. It wears you out when your kidneys stop functioning.”
Larry and Adam were tested and determined to be a perfect match. The testing of Adam’s kidneys was one of the more nerve-wracking parts of the journey for Adam, because it was completely out of his control as to whether he would be a match with his father.
“Having the same blood type is not conclusive,” Adam said. “There are a variety of additional factors that are considered, both mentally and physically, before you are approved as a match. I remember being tense the entire testing period, because I didn’t know if I would have been able to handle the idea that there was nothing I could do but watch from the sidelines as my father’s health deteriorated.”
Adam said giving his father one of his kidneys was pretty much a no-brainer. “I never really had an internal battle as to whether I should donate or not,” he said. “As soon as I found out how serious the situation was, and that we didn’t have much time before my dad’s kidneys would not be able to support him, I knew that I wanted to donate.”
However, Adam did have concerns about his own surgery, as it was his first major surgery; but with his family’s support, he knew that it was the right thing to do. Fortunately, the results were favorable.
Following Larry’s surgery, Adam said, “This is the healthiest I have seen my dad in recent memory. He has more energy, is able to eat foods that he was unable to eat for years and is back to the old Dad that I remember. Looking back, if I had to do it over again, I would.”
Over the past five years since their successful surgeries, both father and son have celebrated annually by competing in a one day, 100-mile bicycle race somewhere in the United States! They began in the summer of 2015 with the Hotter’N Hell Hundred mile bicycle ride in Wichita Falls, TX. This year they will be riding in the 100-mile Century Ride in Chicago, IL.
Larry hadn’t ridden a bicycle in more than 40 years when his son suggested they participate in the first race together in 2015. The idea originally came from Dr. Tiffany Anthony, a past Outlive Yourself Award recipient and one of the transplant surgery doctors during the Brunells’ kidney surgery.
Both Larry and Adam come from athletic backgrounds, which is why they have made the hundred-mile bike rides a yearly occurrence. It’s an opportunity for the father and son to spend time together, even if it’s during a physically challenging day!
Larry is grateful to organizations like the Outlive Yourself Foundation for raising awareness of organ donation! Larry is hoping he might be able to use this experience to help others.