SUISUN CITY — Sidney Clark calls himself “Cupid.” He’ll even mimic the motions of pulling on a bow and arrow, just as the figure in classical mythology is often pictured.
Clark brought two people together at the Kroc Center, although the ultimate match was determined by a medical team.
On April 29, thanks to Clark’s willingness to talk about someone in need of a kidney, Lewis Williams got one. The donor was Christopher Hernandez, a co-worker of Clark’s. Williams is a member of the Kroc Center.
“I was on dialysis,” Williams said. “I had reconciled it with myself that I would die on dialysis.”
When Hernandez learned about Williams’ plight, he told Clark he’d give one of his kidneys to the former law enforcement officer.
Clark told Williams, who found it hard to believe at first. The reality set in after Hernandez went online and filled out a donor information form.
Once he was cleared as a donor, Hernandez, 42, and Williams, 64, began a series of medical appointments, often together.
On surgery day, Hernandez was wheeled into the operating room about 45 minutes prior to his recipient.
Williams was understandably nervous. Surgery had been delayed by several hours because of two emergency procedures done on other patients.
When he woke up from the anesthesia, the new kidney was doing its job.
Williams was diagnosed in late 2000 with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. His kidney was attacking its filtering system.
He was told to expect renal failure in two to two and a half years. Williams beat those numbers and got on dialysis about 20 months before the transplant.
Williams was also on the transplant waiting list. He was told it could be seven or eight years before he got a new kidney. That time could be shortened by a few years if he was willing to accept a cadaver kidney.
Hernandez said he couldn’t think of a reason not to help Williams. He’d heard of Williams’ ideas to bring teens to the Kroc Center for lunch and offering them a place to speak freely about their issues.
He saw Williams began to tire easily.
“I still search for words,” Williams said. “What do you say when someone gives you life?”
Hernandez returned to work a few weeks ago. His co-workers donated some of their vacation time to help him.
The duo kept it a secret at the Kroc until just a few weeks before the surgery. Once the word started to spread, Hernandez was pleased that some of his co-workers checked into being organ donors.
“I knew it was purely altruistic,” Kroc director Michael Brito said, of Hernandez. “He didn’t want the attention to be diverted to him.”
Williams still has restrictions on him. He can’t lift more than 10 pounds and must limit his exposure to large groups for fear of illness.
The two joked about the experience recently. Sitting next to each other, Lewis said, in jest, that Hernandez is like a magnet to his kidney.
“Keep me close just in case he wants me back,” he said of what the kidney may be thinking.
He hopes more people will consider organ donation and that more parents, like Tony and Susie Hernandez, raise their children to be compassionate, selfless and kind, Williams said.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.