A gift of life: Bloomfield native donating kidney to northern Indiana woman

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Jonathan Stewart

The gift of life is indeed something to be cherished and a 22-year-old Bloomfield native plans to take a bold step later this month and do his part to make sure a northern Indiana mother has a full life with her family.

Jonathan Stewart, who's known as "Stewy" by his friends and family, will donate his left kidney to a 30-year-old mother in a transplant operation planned for July 31 at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis.

Stewart has never met the woman, but said there's a real special reason he came to the decision to give up his healthy functioning kidney and be a donor.

He's doing it to honor of his late uncle, Joseph Anthony Hajdinak, of rural Solsberry, who died Nov. 28, 2008 and also another "dear friend" from Bloomfield, who recently died.

Both men died from complications associated with diabetes.

Jon had intentions to originally donate one of his kidneys to his ill uncle. However, his uncle expectedly died of a heart attack before the transplant plans could be finalized.

"He (his uncle) was all excited and we were talking about it," Jon recalled. "He was my absolute best friend of all times. I would have done anything for him."

After his death, Jon removed his name from the donor list, but said he was left with a void and didn't feel completely whole.

"I wanted to do something so much for somebody in order to give them a second chance," he said. "This donation is for two very important people who I feel suffered through this horrible sickness, but were unable to prevail, but yet lived life to the fullest every day. As far as I'm concerned, the way I look at this thing (the transplant) everybody makes mistakes in their lives, people who work their tail off and some times they just don't ever get the opportunity or what I would call a second chance. This is my way of remembering two very strong souls who did everything they could to live for their families, but unfortunately God had different plans for them," he explained.

Jon continued, "I am doing this to give a very nice beautiful young woman that has a 2-year-old child and a husband a second chance at life so she doesn't have to feel sick every day of her life and also she will soon have the energy to be able to do the things she wants with her daughter.

Stewart, a 2005 Bloomfield High School graduate and a current student at Indiana University in Bloomington, will have the opportunity to meet his kidney recipient -- Kristine Marcoux -- for the first time on Saturday when he travels to her home to introduce himself to her entire family.

The woman, according to Stewart, has been in kidney failure for the last two years -- since her only daughter was born -- and she has undergone regular dialysis treatments.

"I spoke with her husband last night to set up the event and meet up with her. It's been very exciting. To me, in my mind, it's not like I am just saving another person's life. I am in a sense at the age of 22, I'm going to have a 30-year-old daughter," he said with a laugh. "She is going to be able to see her world in a new light now instead of questioning how much longer does she have to live."

Jon explained that the recipient suffers from a kidney disease that came after she had high blood pressure at a very early age. She was told by doctors that she probably couldn't conceive a child. They later told her it was OK.

"She had the child and then both of her kidneys failed at that point," Jon said.

The kidneys are paired organs, which have the production of urine as their primary function. They are part of the urinary system, but have several secondary functions concerned with homeostatic functions. These include the regulation of electrolytes, acid-base balance, and blood pressure.

Jon said it's unique and a literal stroke of good luck how he was matched up with Kristine.

He works part-time at Best Buy store in Bloomington and was talking to his manager one day about possibly taking some time off in the future to undergo the kidney donation surgical procedures. In the course of the conversation, the manager mentioned his sister in law was in need of a transplant.

Jon then began checking into the possibility for being a match with her and everything has worked out.

"I had no one in particular that I was going to donate it (the kidney) to. I was just going to donate it to any random person. I asked him to tell me more and he told me about her little girl and all of what she'd been through. I told him that I was going to get tested and within two months later, she and I were a match and here we are," Stewart explained.

Jon said he was deeply touched when he talked with Kristine's husband on the telephone.

"He and I were literally in tears over the phone," he said. "He said,' Me and my wife, we owe you everything.' I told him the only thing I ever ask or expect from anyone is to hear the remarkable stories of these two men and just enjoy life and live it to the fullest. He told me that I am now an official part of his family. My nickname from them now is 'Uncle Stewy'."

When asked what kind of thought and prayer went into his decision, Jon said, "I wanted to close the door with uncle's death. I told my Mom there are two things that I have been given as my gift from God. One is that I can make about anybody laugh. Then, also I found out that when I was checking into this for my uncle that my blood type (O-negative) is universal. That means that I can match up almost anybody and everybody. That's when I decided I have these things and I need to use these gifts."

Stewart is the son of Dave and Anne Stewart of Bloomfield. During his school days he was an active performing member of the choral groups and drama productions.

Now, he's studying tourism management and minoring in musical theatre. He'll finish his degree in about three semesters.

For the last two summers, he's been a part of the cast at Shawnee Summer Theatre in Bloomfield -- appearing in Godspell in 2008 and The Wedding Singer this summer.

Jon said he recognizes that most people donate organs after they die, but he wanted to do it now.

"Everyone deserves a second chance ... to enter a new life," Stewart said.

Stewart called himself a spiritual person and said his decision to be a donor did not come lightly and not without a lot of prayer.

There are risks of infection and the possibility he might develop high blood pressure later in life in being a donor.

He's undergone extensive blood work and testing prior to his procedure.

His final decision to be a donor came on May 17 during a visit to the grave yard where both his uncle and friend are buried.

While standing in front of his uncle's grave, Jon asked himself, "should I do this?"

"I broke down in tears. It was like I had this persons standing behind me with his hands on my shoulders and to say yes," Jon recalled. "I didn't get the chance to save him, but I'm getting a chance now not only to save this woman, but I'm getting a chance to save her child from not having a mother. It was the most amazing feeling I've ever had in my life."

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  • What a lovely story! What an unselfish thing to do for another person Jonathan. May God Bless You!

    -- Posted by Susan B. Charlotte, NC on Wed, Jul 22, 2009, at 2:14 PM
  • Stewy you are an amazing person. I know things have not always been easy for you but God will bless you as you are a blessing to so many others.Have a great week-end with your new friends.

    -- Posted by lil bug on Wed, Jul 22, 2009, at 3:29 PM
  • How wonderful! As a family member of someone who has had a life-saving organ transplant, thank you! Organ donation is such a wonderful gift.

    -- Posted by ISUgrad06 on Wed, Jul 22, 2009, at 3:35 PM
  • What a beautiful giving person you are. You must be filled with love -

    -- Posted by hotdogannie on Wed, Jul 22, 2009, at 6:10 PM
  • It's because of people like you that I was allowed to have my mother for 6 extra years. I don't know you but I'm proud of the choice you have made. I'll will pray for you and the receipient. God Bless You!!

    -- Posted by Mellonschic on Wed, Jul 22, 2009, at 6:27 PM
  • Best of luck to you and the lady who gets the kidney. She will be forever grateful. WHAT A GIFT!! I also am a kidney donor. This will mean so much to her, her family and you. God Bless!!!

    -- Posted by Magie on Wed, Jul 22, 2009, at 7:04 PM
  • Wish I was your friend or family member! They should be so proud...You should be proud! As I tell my 5 yr. old, my heart hurts in a good way over you! Thank you for sharing your story! I hope this is one that the paper follows up on! Best of luck and I will be praying for you! Which I am sure you have the man above with you!!! You are a wonderful person....

    -- Posted by caringmom on Wed, Jul 22, 2009, at 8:12 PM
  • Stewy..I have had the pleasure of talking to you and seeing your smiling face...2 of my 4 kids knew you from helping with their classes at school. That family is in for a treat you have truely been blessed Stewy...even though the road may have been rough sometimes you shine. TY for your gift..of giving and laughter..GL Stewy..you are AMAZING!!!

    -- Posted by rwkem on Wed, Jul 22, 2009, at 8:41 PM
  • i have a niece that has two heart transplants. one when she was only days old and one when she was ten. she just celebrated the third birthday of the second heart and is doing well.

    god bless you for being so kind to this women

    -- Posted by baddogdale on Wed, Jul 22, 2009, at 9:41 PM
  • Stewy god has surely blessed you with a kind and passionate heart. You are an inspiration to us all. I wish i knew you and your uncle and friend, for you all must be blessed people. Sorry for the loss of your uncle and friend, it is sure if they are anything like you they are sitting at the feet of god. God Bess You.

    -- Posted by dennisb1953 on Wed, Jul 22, 2009, at 11:56 PM
  • I am Mellonschics' father and like her think this is one of the greatest gifts to be given. I don't think you really realize what you are giving this woman and her family. You are giving them quality of life and extra longevity. Think of that. Amazing huh!!! My wife, Lesa, was always an active lady and worked at the GCGH EKG dept for many years and made many people who were feeling bad a little better with her smile. Dialysis is hard, Lesa came close to dying 3 times while doing dyalysis and recieved her kidney after 1 year of losing her own kidneys. Unfortunatley she contracted lung cancer and passed away in Dec of 2006. It is one of the risk that you take while on anti-rejection drugs but you will allow this woman to spend precious time with her husband and daughter. Thank You, from one who knows, for this unselfish act and may God bless you.

    -- Posted by lyonsdave on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 12:24 AM
  • I just wanted to add that my sister was the recipeant of a double lung transplant around the same time as Lesa and she too passed away in 2006 but her life was so much better and she did get that little extra time with her family. Thank You

    -- Posted by lyonsdave on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 12:29 AM
  • Jonathan Stewy Stewart,better known ti me as you were growing up as (kneeny) I know you and you know me. I am a close friend of yours and your family. I was very close to your Uncle Joe and everyone needs to know what a wonderful giving kind person he was. I know how close the two of you were and I know it devestated you when he passed. He and you are so much a like. I know you are a little worried about how things will go but remember Uncle Joe is your gaurdian angel and I know he will watch over you and things will be just fine. I am sure that everyone who reads your wonderful story will be praying for you. It will be fine and God will watch over you. As I have told you before I think that what you are doing is wonderful and it is the most unselfish thing that one can do. You are giving the gift of life. With all the bad in the world people will look at you and realize that there are still a lot of great wonderful people out there and right now you are one of the greatest that I know. Love you with all my heart (Kneeny) God bless you now and always. Aniamal Lover

    -- Posted by aniamal lover on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 1:57 AM
  • God bless you always...you are loved by many.

    -- Posted by malda may on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 4:54 AM
  • Jonathan, I have always known what a truly wonderful person you are...when you read this you will realize you know me also since my daughter was in all the singing groups with you and graduated the same year as you. My mother, whom I know you thought highly of, went on many of the trips the groups took. When my mohter passed away unexpectedly when you and my daugher were both getting ready to finish your junior year, I know that you felt like there was a void in your life also. Actually, I think a good nickname for you would be Sparky since you have that spark inside you that makes everyone feel better when you are around. God bless you in everything you do in life.

    -- Posted by strait_forward on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 6:38 AM
  • Organ donation is something that every person should consider. The waiting list for those waiting on an organ is unbelievably long. Most patients die waiting for an organ. If everyone eligible would donate their organs, this waiting list would be considerably shorter. My family has been personally involved in organ donation. My aunt passed away waiting on multiple organs to become available. She was 47 years old. What Jonathan is doing is unselfish and awesome. I don't know you, but want to say thank you. I hope your story will help others to consider what a wonderful gift organ donation is. THANKS!

    -- Posted by Laker89 on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 7:06 AM
  • Whan an awesome thing you are doing!!!!! Love ya Stewy!!! *Keeping the Dream Alive*

    -- Posted by GCgirl2000 on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 7:26 AM
  • Stewy (Nini)as I call you! Article is great and what you are doing is a wonderful thing for this family. Our family is very proud of you and you are in all our prayers. Uncle Joey is watching you! See you in NY soon!

    -- Posted by theresa1441 on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 9:02 AM
  • Wow! What an amazing person!

    -- Posted by changeitup on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 11:40 AM
  • Stewie

    were you the bloomfield cardinal mascot??

    -- Posted by jsiepman on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 11:44 AM
  • That's GREAT!

    -- Posted by rileyheart on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 3:08 PM
  • Jonathan all your Irish relations as well as Garry and myself here in Birmingham are thinking about you and praying for you. You are a very brave and generous young man, and we are proud to have you as part of our family. Gob Bless you always.

    -- Posted by auntie anne in birmingham u.k. on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 3:21 PM
  • Dear Jonathan,

    I love you and you are my hero! Thats my boy. We are estatic about your decision to give the gift of life to another person. Your uncle would be so proud of you and we know he is looking down at you with his wonderful smile. Love you Jon, love your Mom.

    -- Posted by mom123 on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 8:14 PM
  • The generosity of live organ donors like Jonathan Stewart is wonderful. It's a shame we need so many live organ donors. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

    There is another good way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- if you don't agree to donate your organs when you die, then you go to the back of the waiting list if you ever need an organ to live.

    Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. About 50% of the organs transplanted in the United States go to people who haven't agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

    Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 12,000 members, including 506 members in Indiana.

    Please contact me - Dave Undis, Executive Director of LifeSharers - if your readers would like to learn more about our innovative approach to increasing the number of organ donors. I can arrange interviews with some of our local members if you're interested. My email address is daveundis@lifesharers.org. My phone number is 615-351-8622.

    -- Posted by LIFESHARERS on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 12:47 PM
  • Jon - It was great meeting you in NY recently.

    What a great thing you are doing...I know your family is very proud of you. You are truly amazing!

    -- Posted by patticorr on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 12:56 PM
  • Dear Jonathan:

    I am so proud of you and you know I will be praying for you. You are a very special young man

    and I know everything will work out fine for both

    you and the young woman. I will talk to you as soon as you are up to talking and look forward to

    seeing you soon. Sorry we did not get together whn you were in New York, but, it sounds like you

    had an awesome time. God Bless you Jonathan.

    Love you, Aunt Kitty

    -- Posted by deedeebaird@hotmail.com on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 10:14 AM
  • Iam so proud to be your aunt and I know jojo is looking down and feels the same. The girl getting your kidney will have a little of him to. I can't put into words how I feel but know I Love you and miss you talk to you soon. Love aunt momo

    -- Posted by jttaylor1964 on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 8:53 PM
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