Man exhausts options, pleas for kidney donor


Bill Pfister

JASPER — In the center of a cartoon kidney in an advertisement in the Jan. 17 Herald, reads a micro-version of his unfortunate story. And in that story, a desperate plea:

“What I’d like to know if there is anyone out there who would be willing to help me by donating a kidney.”

Following a stroke that disabled both of his kidneys in April, Bill Pfister’s life has changed dramatically. The Jasper man currently lives life between three weekly dialysis appointments that sap him of energy. When he comes out of the procedure, he said he is “dead to the world” and hurting.

Caught in a stressful cycle, and after exhausting all his options with friends and family, he’s hoping a stranger will help him return to his old self — and untie him from machines.

“I’m just running out of options,” the 65-year-old said.

Those appointments stretch nearly five hours in length, as his blood is continuously filtered and pumped in and out of his body. The necessary, repetitive procedures prevent him from traveling anywhere overnight.

Pfister said the ad placement was the culmination of his desperation to find a working kidney. Having the organ would be extremely beneficial — with it, Pfister wouldn’t need dialysis — and he could carry on as he did before the stroke. He said his insurance would cover the cost of the removal for a donor.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, most people with one kidney live normal, healthy lives. One transplanted kidney can work as well as two, and in general, most people with a single, healthy kidney have few problems.

After reading his ad, strangers have called him and expressed interest in giving Pfister that part of themselves that he so desperately needs. But a match has not yet been made. Potential donors have been disqualified from giving him one of their kidneys because of heavy medications they take, their weight and other reasons.

Bill Pfister's advertisement that ran in the Jan. 17 Herald.

One of them was Ron Prior of Huntingburg. His wife, Lisa, showed him the Herald ad and asked what he thought of it. Pfister used to work for the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and he helped Ron at his transportation logistics company in the 1980s.

The two hadn’t spoken since. But Ron remembered Pfister, and he called him almost immediately to offer one of his kidneys.

“Honestly, when I looked at that picture, I didn’t see Bill’s face,” Ron, 70, said of the headshot that accompanied the ad. “I saw my wife’s, or my kids’.”

It was something he felt compelled to do. If he was in Pfister’s shoes, who would call him?

“It just seems like if more people helped other people, it’d be a lot easier to get through this span we have here,” Ron said. “I’ve always been willing to try to help other people when I can in whatever situations are needed.”

Ron was ultimately disqualified because he’d had surgery to remove a kidney stone in the past. He was disappointed, but the kindness resonated with Pfister. And he’s hopeful more will continue to step forward.

“I think it’s amazing,” Pfister said of the possibility of receiving help from someone he’s never met before. “I think it’s totally amazing. That is what I was appealing to in the first place. And sure enough, some did come forward.”

His troublesome road began nine months ago. After suffering from a stroke on his living room floor, Pfister was transported to Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper.

“I thought I was dead,” he said. “I felt so bad, and my back hurt so bad, and it was the kidney is what it was.”

He was then shipped to Deaconess Gateway Hospital in Evansville. During the ride there, he said it felt so rough on his body that he likened the experience to laying in the bed of a moving pickup truck. The pain didn’t subside once in his hospital bed. Disoriented and paranoid, he called 911 from his hospital room because he thought “they’re trying to kill me,” he recalled.

“It is the most painful thing I’ve ever been through in my whole life, by far,” Pfister said of the experience. But aside from his non-functioning kidneys, his body has made a complete recovery.

Those interested in helping Pfister can contact him at 482-5811. He is not offering compensation for the needed kidney.

“Almost anybody could help if they cared enough to do it,” he said. “I know a lot of people, and there’s only a few people that stepped forward.”

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