May 30, 2020

By Sandy Foster of the Tribune

Tony Anderson (1990 graduate of Lee’s Summit High School) had quite a drive to make over Mother’s Day weekend. He left his home in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, bound for Lee’s Summit.

The 13-hour drive was just one more step in the yearlong mission he was on. You see, Tony’s 73-year-old father, Carl Anderson, had been undergoing kidney dialysis for nearly two years. Three days a week, Carl would spend about four hours each day undergoing dialysis. He had been on the transplant waitlist during that time but soon, Carl would no longer be eligible for a kidney transplant due to his age.

One year ago, Tony set out to see if he might be a suitable donor for his father. Thankfully, he was.

According to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics website, about 30% of kidney transplants come from relatives or friends (living donation). The other 70% come from people who have died suddenly and who are organ donors.

Receiving a kidney from a relative has several benefits. First, the tissue may be a closer match and thus reduce the risk of rejection. Second, kidneys from living donors are known to work longer and better than those received from deceased individuals and third, obtaining a kidney from a relative is faster than waiting on the transplant list.

“Tony started the testing process to see if he was a match for his dad a year ago,” said Loretta Anderson, Tony’s mom. “There have been many tests he has had to undergo to make sure his kidney was a match. He drove all the way here for the surgery because of COVID-19. He couldn’t take a plane and risk possibly contracting the virus. If that had happened,” she explained, “the whole surgery would have been postponed.”

“My father started on dialysis when he was 72,” said Tony. “The average wait time for a suitable transplant is about three and a half years. If he had to wait that long, he wouldn’t be able to have the surgery because he would be older than the cutoff age of 75,” Tony said. “He would have been on the wait list just long enough to get kicked off, with no chance for transplant surgery.”

The surgery was on May 19th at St. Luke’s Hospital on the Plaza. It was a success. Tony was allowed to go home two days later on May 21st. Carl is still inpatient, which is to be expected. He hopes to be able to go home the first week in June.

Tony stated that going through the process was very interesting. “I learned a lot,” he said. “Everyone at St. Luke’s Hospital was very kind and answered all our questions. It made sense to me that by donating one kidney, I’d have only 50 percent functionality remaining, but what I learned is that over the course of about a year, the functionality of my remaining kidney will “grow” to about 70-80% of what the two combined were previously.”

Tony has one more appointment with the doctors at St. Luke’s Hospital. He expects to get the go-ahead to make the 13 hour drive back home at that appointment.

“My new life with only one kidney will be a bit different,” he said. “I will have to make an effort to hydrate really well, and some of my favorite caffeinated beverages are out now.”

Tony knows this is a small price to pay to give his father a functioning kidney, and he is thankful his kidney was a match.

If you would like information on becoming an organ donor, you can learn more at Midwest Transplant Network (