AIKEN, S.C./AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Thousands of people are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. An Aiken pastor is one of them.
Some would say he’s helping to save lives from the pulpit but now, he’s looking for a donor to help save his life. Pastor Michael O’Neal has faced a life of high blood pressure and diabetes and COVID caused a major issue. “My bout with COVID and pneumonia did a number on the kidneys,” he told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk. “I went to the hospital in reference to kidney stones, it pretty much pulled my kidney percentage down all the way to like 4%. And it was a very much need then for me to seek some type of dialysis treatment to be able to continue functioning,” he recalled.
Dialysis treatments are three times a week. While it’s not taxing on his body, O’Neal says, it’s more of a mental challenge. “Right now, I’m trying to get adjusted and trying to keep focused and stay positive.”
“It’s a big problem especially in the southeast and in Georgia [and South Carolina],” Surgical Director for Transplant Surgery Dr. Muhammad Saeed said. “We have a significant number of people who have a history of hypertension and diabetes,” he added.
While O’Neal would be thankful for any donor, he’s searching for one type in particular. “Some people make it, some people don’t. The best approach for me after much prayer is seeking out a living donor,” he said.
“I personally believe that is a better option now for the people who need a kidney transplant,” Dr. Saeed added. “Just strictly talked about the longevity of the kidney, but both of them can be very, very successful,” said Dr. Seed.
There are several advantages to having a transplant from a living person compared to deceased donors including wait time. “In this situation, you don’t have to wait because right now, if you want to get an organ from a cadaver person you have to stand in the line, you have to wait for your turn and when your name comes up, then you will get an organ,” Dr. Saeed shared.
Also, living donations come from very young, healthy people. “They can last up to like 15 to 20 years, which is phenomenal for the patient,” Dr. Saeed said. “Living donation has on an average longer functioning as compared to the cadaver one, but both of them can be very, very successful,” he added.
Also the average recovery time for transplant patients, we’re told, is on average five to seven days.
Meanwhile, for pastor O’Neal, any option would be a great one. “The thing about it is a lot of times you may be the key to that person’s survival by just donating, making that choice to donate precious life,” he said.
If you would like to be a living donor for Pastor O’Neal call 803-671-8976.
- MUSC Living Donor information: https://muschealth.org/medical-services/transplant/living-donation
- August University Health Living Donor information: https://www.augustahealth.org/kidney-and-pancreas-transplant/