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AND TODD RETTERATH always

seemed to be a good match, but they didn’t really know how good until last year. dawn, when she went into the doctor’s

office for a routine physical in June, learned that some of the kidney problems she had experienced as a child were resurfacing. as a child, she’d had vesicoureteral

reflux, where urine backs up from the bladder into the kidneys. she’d had sur- gery to fix it and she outgrew many of her problems. but, in 2009 doctors discovered scar tis- sue had caused her kidneys to deteriorate. dawn met with a transplant team and a

nurse coordinator who told her the best thing for her would be a live donor. “the doctor wanted four

relatives or friends to be tested [to see if any were a good match],” todd recalls. “i was with her at her appointment and i wanted to be tested.” also tested with a simple

blood draw were dawn’s sister, an aunt and a sister- in-law. three of the four were found to be potential matches. todd had three of six genetic markers and the same blood type. “todd stepped up to the

plate and said he’d give me a kidney,” dawn says. “i didn’t want to take one from anybody.” todd said it was an easy choice to make. “it’s a no-brainer to do something like this for your wife and family,” he explains. “doctors said it was

than heart More

unusual to find such a good match between a husband and wife,” he adds. todd was also tested psy- chologically to make sure he was ready to donate a kid- ney. “they make sure you’re doing this for all the right reasons,” he explains. meanwhile, dawn’s kidney function con-

tinued to deteriorate. she had 22 percent function in June, and by October it was down to 18 percent. “i had never had to do dialysis before,

and i wanted to do this before i needed dialysis,” she says. so, on dec. 3, 2009, mayo clinic doctors

transplanted one of todd’s healthy kidneys into dawn. todd had a two-day hospital

husband donates kidney to wife

STORY BY GERI MCSHANE

PHOTO BY ERIC JOHNSON

“and then all the levels dropped,” todd

says. dawn still needs to take anti-rejection

drugs for the rest of her life and has to have blood draws weekly for now, but it’s a small price to pay, she says. she feels pretty good now, although at

first she didn’t know she was sick. “One of the symptoms is fatigue,” she says. “i was tired, but i work full-time and i have kids, so i didn’t think much about it.” and people around her didn’t notice it

28 ♦ Southern Minnesota Magazine ♦ Venus 2010

AUSTIN COUPLE DAWN

stay and dawn was in for five days. by the 11th day, however, dawn’s body

started to reject her kidney. she had to have an aphoresis treatment, which sepa- rated her white blood cells from her red blood cells. “We were told it was like a bad storm

and it just had to run its course,” todd says. doctors mixed todd and dawn’s blood

before the transplant and conducted a number of other tests and were confident the aphoresis would work. she received seven or eight of these daily treatments and then her blood was tested to see if the number of white cells being produced was going down.

either. “When i told people, they were shocked,” she says. “i never looked sick.” todd said doctors told her that when her

kidney function dipped down to 10 or 11 percent she would notice it. the retteraths stayed at todd’s aunt and

uncle’s home in rochester after they were discharged, and were finally able to come back to their home in austin two days before christmas. they were well taken care of when they

got home too. neighbors took care of their home while

they were in rochester and re-stocked their cupboards before they returned home. friends took care of their daugh- ters, halie, 9, and carlie, 5. it was good to

get home to their daughters. “We missed them and they missed us,” dawn says. halie had actu-

ally offered to give her mother one of her kidneys, but donors have to be 18-years-old. besides, dawn says, she’d never take one from her children. “she had gotten

a lot of informa- tion because her teacher had donated a kidney to someone,” todd says. todd was off

work from his job in the shipping department at hormel foods for six weeks. his co- workers there, as well as in the department where he used to work, took up collections for his family, and told them

to buy christmas presents for their daughters. “it was pretty overwhelming.

everybody’s looking out for everybody else,” todd says. dawn took eight weeks off from her job

at Kuehn motors. now, life has returned to normal for the

family, and dawn is taking care of herself by following a low-salt diet and exercising. “We’re lucky everything turned out the way it did,” dawn says. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52
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