FAYETTE, Iowa (January 18, 2008) - The New Year has been anything but happy for Fayette resident Mike Estrem and his wife, Deb. They have spent the better part of the month at Mayo Clinic because Mike's lead doctor is recommending a simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant (SPKT). Mike was diagnosed two months ago and has just started dialysis treatments at a local facility.
To further complicate matters, there is a six-year waiting list for SPKT patients. According to the Iowa Donor Registry (IDR), as of January 3, 2008 there is a need for 97,500 organs nationwide, with 74,000 in need of a kidney, and 350 requests in Iowa alone.
"As I speak with people about my need, many of them indicate they have their driver's license marked as an organ donor," said Estrem. "However, few people know that it is actually a two-part process, meaning that indicating you are a donor on your driver's license isn't any good until you register with the Iowa Donor Registry."
A new law went into effect July 1, 2007 wherein the Iowa DOT shares its list of willing donors with the IDR. Adds Estrem, "So if you got your license before July 1, you also need to call or log onto the Iowa Donor Registry web site."
A faster option for Estrem would, of course, be to find a living kidney donor. "I know this is a huge request tor someone to fill," said Estrem, "but you never know who might step forward unless you ask." Estrem said his insurance would pay all the medical expenses for a donor, which would include pre-testing and screening, a two-day hospital stay, and then back to normal activities within three weeks.
Estrem is the director of grounds at Upper Iowa University. Anyone interested in being a living kidney donor can call Lynette Fix with the Mayo Clinic at 866-249-1648.