OSF Saint Francis Medical Center

Peoria, Illinois

A Life-Saving Friendship…“Bryan and Roger’s Story”

Brian-and-Rodger.jpg When Bryan Aberle delivered a load of gravel to Roger Scherr’s farm just outside Fairbury in late November of 2010, neither of them knew that day would change their lives forever.

A Life-Saving Friendship…“Bryan and Roger’s Story”

When Bryan Aberle delivered a load of gravel to Roger Scherr’s farm just outside Fairbury in late November of 2010, neither of them knew that day would change their lives forever.

At the time, Bryan and Roger were only cordial work acquaintances. Roger had end stage renal disease and had been undergoing nightly peritoneal dialysis treatments for nearly six months, which robbed him of all leisure and hindered his plans for the future. And Bryan still had both of his kidneys.

But after seeing Roger’s gaunt, deteriorating condition, Bryan began to consider becoming a living organ donor.  

“He looked like a skeleton,” Bryan recalls. “I didn’t really know him well at the time. I’d heard he needed a transplant, but didn’t think about it much. Seeing him that day like that really hit me. I felt compelled to do something about it. ”

After a week full of thought and prayer, Bryan gave a nervous phone call to the Scherrs, officially offering to donate his kidney. Because kidney transplants are usually best matched from relatives, both men knew that the odds weren’t in their favor.

“I remember thinking, ‘Here’s a young man who doesn’t really know me, but he’s willing to give a part of his body to me.’ It’s a humbling experience— just the offer itself is an amazing gift and a testament to the type of person Bryan is,” Roger said.

When the results of the blood work came back with an almost-perfect match, everyone was shocked—except Bryan and Roger.

Brian-and-Rodger.jpg “We matched up like brothers,” Bryan said, grinning boyishly. For them, their compatibility only confirmed that their experience together was meant to be. At the Transplant Services office at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, they became a popular conversation topic. Rarely do results come back so promising, let alone from two men who were once strangers.

After months of testing, delays, and measurable patience from everyone involved, Bryan and Roger were cleared for donation and found themselves being prepped for surgery on July 18, 2011.

“Bryan was the only one of us who slept through the night before surgery. No one—not me, not our wives, or any of our family members slept.  But Bryan? He slept like a baby,” Roger joked.

The donation turned out to be an immediate success. Within the first twenty-four hours of surgery, Roger’s new kidney began functioning significantly better than most kidney transplants.

“Dr. Ketel, Dr. O’Connor, and the entire OSF staff did an excellent job,” Roger said.

Even during the recovery period at the hospital, Roger and Bryan never lost their playful and fraternal sense of camaraderie.

“I was annoyed that Roger made it out of bed before me. I was only 29, and he was 61. I should have been able to recover faster!” Bryan said.

Within a couple of days, both men were back at home to finish the recovery process. Within a couple of weeks, Bryan was back at work and Roger’s kidney function had returned to healthy levels. Fast-forward to today, and their lives have been remarkably transformed. Not only has their relationship budded from casual acquaintance to deep friendship that mirrors only that of a father and son, but because of Bryan’s donation, Roger is able to once again live a fully functional and happy life.

“I just went through life day by day. Planning my farming future was hard. That’s the hardest thing—you don’t know about your future. It’s scary knowing that you’re going to be tied to a machine the rest of your life,” he said. “Bryan saved my life.”

As for Bryan, he describes his decision as incredibly rewarding. “If I was asked to go through all of this again, I would. Everyone deserves a good life and good health, if possible. Organ donation is one of the easiest ways to make life better for someone— forever.” 

Together, Bryan and Roger work with the community to raise awareness about the benefits of organ donation. In 2012, they spoke at the National Kidney Foundation Education Day at Bradley University in Peoria, IL.

“I’d like to hear someone say, ‘Because of your story, I donated a kidney.’ That’s what I want,” Roger said.

 

Guardian Angel Living Donor

Guardian Angel In October 2016, mom got a call from her doctor’s office stating they wanted to move her yearly check up to the end of October instead of December, they never stated why at first. After her checkup, we received the news! We have a DONOR! Not just any donor, a LIVE donor! We were in shock! Who was this person? Did we know him or her? Why did they decide to do this?

Valentine's Day, and every day for that matter, is the perfect day to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor! What a better way to express love than to commit to saving and healing lives by joining the donor registry? Just one donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation, and save or heal more than 75 lives through eye and tissue donation.

Organ donation is something that has recently affected my family in a wonderful way! In 2009, my mom was diagnosed with a type of kidney disease. It is an incredibly long name that I can't spell nor remember anymore. We were told that there wasn't a way to find out what causes it and there is no cure. Her kidneys were functioning at 10 percent. After many tests and procedures, she was told she would have to start dialysis and was put on the transplant list. She began dialysis in April 2013. Three days a week she would get up and be at the dialysis center in Streator by 5:30 a.m. and would have to sit there hooked up to a machine for four hours while the process was completed. Can you imagine that? Sitting in a chair for four hours a day, three days a week. That is 12 hours a week, 624 hours a year! My mom completed her dialysis treatment on December 10, 2016. So for a total of about 189 weeks at 12 hours a week, my mom spent over 2,200 hours of her life hooked up to a machine to help prolong her life! What can you do with 2,200 hours of your life? My mom missed out on a lot! There were days she was so tired that she couldn't attend events she wanted to or couldn't even make it to work.

In October 2016, mom got a call from her doctor's office stating they wanted to move her yearly check up to the end of October instead of December, they never stated why at first. After her checkup, we received the news! We have a DONOR! Not just any donor, a LIVE donor! We were in shock! Who was this person? Did we know him or her? Why did they decide to do this? All questions that would soon be answered! Turns out our guardian angel’s name was Kinda Pellino, and she was an acquaintance that knew my mom through the flower shop where my mom worked. A simple conversation between her and my mom's boss, turned out to be the biggest blessing we could ever receive! Kinda is an amazing woman who selflessly decided to give a part of herself to help save my mother’s life!

Once Kinda and my mom completed all of their testing and were given the go ahead for the surgery, the date was set! December 12, 2016, would be the day our prayers were to be answered! Even as I sit here typing this, it brings a tear to my eye and I still wonder why! Why did Kinda decide to do this? What is going through her head as she prepares to give up one of her organs? I wanted to know this angel, I needed to know her and meet her! I got that chance on November 26, 2016. I will never forget that day. She is simply the most amazing person I have ever met! After talking with her, I found we had a connection through work! Turns out our angel is a massage therapist right here at Starved Rock Lodge! Talk about a small world! In getting to know Kinda and her family, I learned that the journey that led to her decision to be our donor started with heartbreak. Something no parent should ever have to go through! Kinda tragically lost her son Cody in an automobile accident! It was through his death, that she got involved with organ donation and the benefits of it. It was because of this that she started looking into how she could help others. Many people have asked her “why?” Why would she do this? What was she thinking? She sums it up perfectly in her response on Facebook, "I am young enough to recuperate easily and healthy enough to donate now. We don't know how we are going to die, or if our organs will be viable when we die. The decision was easy. This world revolves around random acts of kindness, we cannot always be selfish and think only of ourselves."

December 12, 2016, was the longest day ever! We went up to pre-op to see mom and Kinda before surgery. Once we were taken down to the waiting room, the minutes and hours just drug on and on. Kinda was taken back about 8:30 a.m. Mom went back around 9:15 a.m. We received word about 1:50 p.m. that the kidney was in and the surgery almost complete! At 3:45 p.m. we were finally taken to see mom in her room! The surgery was a SUCCESS!!! The kidney has been functioning perfectly! Words can't express how grateful we are to Kinda for her amazing gift! She is truly our guardian angel and our hero! We will never be able to repay her for what she did for us! We love her and she is now a part of our family!

We are now just shy of two months since the transplant took place. Kinda has been released back to work and is doing well. Mom is still recovering. She has had a few setbacks with illnesses but the kidney continues to work perfectly! Organ donation is a blessing! So if you aren't already listed as an organ donor, please consider it! You never know whose life you can save!

- Laura Guerrero