Welcome back, Ted Stoffers
By Nathan Pisano – Photo by Nathan Pisano
Ted Stoffers, a Visual Communications student at Chemeketa, returns to the school after receiving a kidney transplant.
“I have been blessed. The timing was right – two months from the surgery to when the term started. Everything came together well,” he said.
Stoffers was diagnosed with an advanced case of polycystic kidney disease about 7 years ago.
Policystic kidney disease is a genetic disease. He said that his kidneys create cysts, which result in reduced kidney function.
When Stoffers was at his yearly check-up with his transplant team at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital this past November, he got some good news: The rules for determining who has priority for receiving a transplant were changing.
The news was good because a patient’s age and the number of years on dialysis were now taken into consideration instead of years on the transplant list.
Stoffers had been on dialysis for seven years but had been on the list for only one.
“The surgeon said I was looking at receiving a transplant within the year,” he said.
He received the call he was waiting for on the night of Jan. 26. The transplant team found a kidney that was a match, and he was to be in Portland at 6 a.m. Monday.
Stoffers gathered items he thought he would need and contacted people to let them know what was happening.
He was on the road by 5 a.m. the next morning and prepped for surgery by 6 a.m.
“They gave me a couple of pills, took me to the elevator, and the last I remember is maybe the elevator doors opening,” he said. “I woke up in the ICU.”
The surgery was textbook; it left a foot-long incision along his right side … and a little something extra.
Stoffers said that he now has three kidneys. The third is located in his hip region near the incision. The doctors won’t remove any unless it is necessary.
The next three days were spent in the Intensive Care Unit, where he was constantly monitored. He wasn’t able to move around much, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t stay busy.
He said he had some projects for VC, the student newspaper, and his church to keep him occupied.
The last two days at the hospital were spent in a regular room, where Stoffers was able to move around again.
“After ICU, they made me walk around; I had to do laps,” he said.
“They gave me a pillow shaped like a kidney. Whenever I had to exert myself, I had to hold it to my side. It kept everything together.”
By Friday evening, Stoffers was back home with his sister, who came from California to help. She stayed for two weeks, when his brother took over for the next week.
During this period, Stoffers was limited in what he could do.
“I had to be careful with my laundry,” he said. “I could only lift 10 pounds.”
After being released from the hospital, he still had a recovery program to go through.
In the beginning, he returned to the hospital in Portland for check-ups every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Before long, the visits were down to weekly and then every other week.
Now he has a monthly visit with a nephrologist, or kidney specialist, and weekly labs to check his blood.
He also has to meet with the transplant team in 6 and 12 months for a follow-up visit.
“All my numbers from my labs are coming back good. I still have to take some vitamins, but the kidney is looking good,” he said.
Stoffers must take anti-rejection drugs twice a day for the rest of his life.
The drugs have already proven effective. A biopsy performed a month ago indicated that there was a minor rejection of the new kidney; the biopsy done the following week had better results.
Now, back in school again, things are going well. Stoffers reports no difficulties with his recovery, and attending school is better than ever for him.
“It’s nice to be back,” he said. “This is the first term I’ve done where I haven’t had to worry about dialysis.”
This also is his last full term at Chemeketa. He has one fall class remaining to finish his degree.
If Stoffers learned anything from his ordeal, it was the high demand for live organ donors, who are in short supply.
By signing up to be a donor, you may end up saving someone’s life by giving up something that you can live without.
“It was wonderful thing to receive. I sent a letter to the family, but they never responded,” he said.