WINDSOR, CT - The proudest role of Scott Meyer’s life is being a father to his two sons Aidan, age 2 and Dylan, 4. Oftentimes, these two little boys were the source of love that kept him going through some of his darkest days. Meyer battled a health condition that always kept him wondering if he’d live to see the next Father’s Day.
“I have something called IgA nephropathy. It’s a kidney disorder that occurs when IgA—a protein that helps the body fight infections—settles in the kidneys. After many years, the IgA deposits may cause the kidneys to leak blood and sometimes protein into the urine,” explains Meyer.
The 35-year-old was diagnosed with the condition in his late twenties. He had gone to his local emergency room for what he thought was a urinary tract infection. After a few tests he figured the doctors would confirm the infection, give him a prescription and send him on his way. However, there was no infection, instead a slight decrease in his kidney function that needed follow up from his regular doctor. That led to the confirmation of IgA nephropathy, something that completely changed Scott’s quality of life.
“I was tired a lot. I lost my appetite and it was growing increasingly difficult to keep up with my two little boys,” said Meyer. “It was hard. I could see in my family’s eyes how worried they had become. Some days I just felt like staying in bed, but I had to keep going. At some points if it were not for my children, I might not be here. They have been my best medicine.”
The doctors made it clear that Meyer would eventually need a new kidney. He was put on the wait list and in the interim, had to rely on dialysis to carry him through the waiting period. In total, he was on dialysis for 3 years and 10 months. The treatment exhausted him and made him depressed at times.
“When waiting for a kidney you kind of wonder where you are on the list. However I never really wanted to know, because I felt it would make the wait feel longer and make me more frustrated,” said Meyer.
At about 8:15 a.m. on a mid-November day, Meyer’s waiting came to an end when his phone rang. He was told to come to the hospital immediately. A generous gift from a complete stranger would change his life and put him on his way to recovery...and most importantly, give him more time with his family.
“I spent four days in the hospital and was blessed to have family and friends and my children by my side,” he said. “A member of the clergy came in to give me communion and at this point I could not eat yet, but I asked her if we could pray for my donor and my donor’s family as they were going through a loss. It brought me to tears knowing someone had died and had given a gift of a second chance. So we prayed for them and I still do to this day.”
Meyer now describes his life as 100 percent improved. All symptoms he had from kidney failure and dialysis are now gone. Food has flavor again. His family no longer has to worry about his health. Most importantly, he gets to do activities with his sons that weren't possible in the past.
“I can play with my children. I will get to watch them grow up and become men. I don’t have to worry about how much fluid I can drink anymore. I feel free again,” he said. “I feel if I could say Thank You every second of the day it would still not be enough.”
Pat Jennings was also touched by donation, but his story is very different. Like Meyer, being a Dad has been the most important part of his life. He describes his son Jeremy as a “bigger than life” type of person and the center of attention wherever he went. But perhaps his best quality was his willingness to always help a friend.
“He was always willing to help you out in a time of need,” said Jennings. “In a way, everyone he met was a friend if they wanted to be.”
But everything changed two years ago when Jeremy died suddenly. From that horrible loss came many tremendous gifts.
“Jeremy really never said anything to me about being an organ donor other than that he was registered. We decided to donate his organs because that was his wish,” said Jennings. “To me, there is no greater loss than your child, but knowing that he has helped so many people in so many states, kind of keeps him alive in my mind.”
As of the last update, Jennings has learned that his son’s amazing gift has helped 43 people in 13 different states, including a newborn baby, a teenager, an elderly man and many others.
“Jeremy would think about the fact that he has helped so many people and as my daughter put it, he would get a kick out of being a part of so many individuals," adds Jennings.
For Jennings, Father’s Day is a reminder of the son he lost, but also, of all the good that he did. For Meyer, it’s a time to give thanks for the chance to still be a Dad.
“Everyday we hear about heroes all over the world, like military and police officers, however, there are also heroes we seldom hear about-the organ donor,” said Meyer.
LifeChoice Donor Services, Inc. is the federally designated, non-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) for six counties in Connecticut and three counties in Western Massachusetts with a combined population of 2.3 million people. The OPO serves twenty-three acute care hospitals for organ and tissue donation and two organ transplant hospitals, Hartford Hospital in Hartford, CT and Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA.
LifeChoice Donor Services is a member in good standing of the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) and is accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO). For more information about LifeChoice and to join the Donor Registry, please visit www.lifechoiceopo.org or call 1.800.874.5215.