A happy reunion: Kidney donor meets recipient

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Kristine Marcoux and Jonathan "Stewy" Stewart met for the first time on Saturday in Bloomington. Friday morning, she will receive his left kidney in operations at IU Med Center in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

Former Bloomfield resident Jonathan "Stewy" Stewart now has met the northern Indiana woman that will receive his left kidney Friday morning.

Kristine Marcoux, 30, traveled to Bloomington -- where Stewart now lives -- on Saturday to enjoy a lunch.

The meeting turned out to be a 3 1/2-hour gala filled with laughter, the taking of photographs and there was plenty of good conversation in a family-like atmosphere.

"It was absolutely amazing. It was everything and more than I would have asked for. She is a rocket of life," Stewart, a 2005 Bloomfield High School graduate and current student at Indiana University, said.

Attending the gathering was Kristine's husband, her mother as well as several nieces, nephews and other family members. They made a 1 1/2-hour trip to Bloomington for the initial meeting between the two people who had never met.

It was very special in Stewart's view.

She said "Hello Jon and we both just started hugging and the tears started flowing. In my mind, it was me holding my uncle again. Not only is it (the transplant) for her, but it is for my uncle and friend who passed away. It was the most amazing feeling I ever had."

Stewart, 22, said he's doing the transplant donation to honor of his late uncle, Joseph Anthony Hajdinak, of rural Solsberry, who died Nov. 28, 2008 and another "dear friend" from Bloomfield, who recently died.

Both men died from complications associated with diabetes.

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

Stewart said he is pleased he was able to meet his donor recipient before the surgery.

"It's was a great time. We all sat and ate and laughed and she and I talked about what to expect," Stewart said.

Both have a final doctor's appointments today at the same time in the same place at IU Med Center.

On Friday, they'll undergo surgery in nearby operating rooms.

A surgical team will remove Stewart's left kidney and then promptly transfer it to Kristine's body within minutes.

Stewart said he learned that the transfer needs to take place within 20 minutes, so both will go under anesthetic about the same time. Kristine will be prepped to receive the harvested kidney that will be placed under her hip and connected to her two existing kidneys. Her two kidneys -- which are about 10 percent functional -- will remain in her body, he 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.

Stewart said all his medical expenses related involved with the organ donation are being taking care of by the hospital. He's also not being paid for the donated kidney.

"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 said.

Stewart found out that the woman had suffered from severe migraine headaches when she was about 16 years old -- causing her blood pressure to go up very high. She received medication that eventually led to kidney failure.

When she was pregnant with her only child, her blood pressure again became a problem forcing her to deliver prematurely. Her newborn daughter weighed just 2 1/2 pounds.

Stewart also revealed that after talking with Christine at length Saturday, he learned that she'll need extensive financial help just to buy the large number of prescription medications that she'll be required to take after the surgery.

That concerned Stewart and now he is trying to get in contact with all the churches in town and in the area and solicit funds to help defray the cost of her post-op prescription drugs -- which are estimated to cost about $2,000 a month.

"I want to get a letter or something to let people know that anybody who has a dollar or anything to spare to go towards this. I want to make sure that this lady has some cushion and comfort for at least a year. I just thought these people need as much help as they can possibly get."

Stewart said he remembers how Bloomfield stepped up to assist his family when they had a house fire in 2003, and he's hoping area residents will respond the same this time.

Stewart is the son of Dave and Anne Stewart of Bloomfield.

Stewart said he hasn't forgot that several students offered their leftover lunch money to him just to make sure he had money to buy clothes after the fire.

"I know that Bloomfield does have a very giving heart. People just came out of nowhere to help our family," he said.

Stewart said he is have no second thoughts about his decision to donate his kidney -- despite the risk of complications of any major surgical procedure.

He contends he wants to be able to say he made a difference in someone one's life -- regardless of what happens.

"I keep thinking about what I am doing and I feel an odd presence of two very, very special people. There are certain moments in the day when it is overwhelming."

Stewart has also been surprised with the outpouring of concern and prayers since his story first appeared in the Greene County Daily World.

His Facebook online account has been overflowing with prayerful messages.

"I can't believe how many people truly care for me. It's emotional to know that people care," he said.

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  • God Bless you now and forever!!!!!

    -- Posted by peaceloveandprayers on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 10:25 PM
  • God Bless you Jonathan. Not only are you saving the life of this young women you are giving her little girl her mother back. Now this little girl will have her mommy to grow up with because of your kind heart. Uncle Joe will be watching over you and I know he couldnt be prouder. God bless you now and always Neni.

    -- Posted by aniamal lover on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 10:26 PM
  • Recipients will need to take a variety of meds after the surgery, and often times the meds will vary as the doctors search for the right combo to best serve the patient. Many times the patients will bring back the unused portion of the meds to the hospital for another transplant patient to use due to the high cost of the meds. This would obviously not cover all of the meds, but might help. Not sure if this is something Bloomington does, and it is not a program sponored by the hospital for obvious reasons, but if it is happening, the hospital will know about it.

    Also, and this is something that you have probably already thought of, but what about social security disability, SSI, and/or medicaid which would provide additional income or insurance to help defray the costs to the family. It is income based, but might be worth investigating if you have not already looked into that as an option.

    Good luck and may God bless and keep you both.

    -- Posted by Stand Up on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 11:45 PM
  • Bless you, Jonathon!

    -- Posted by bloomfieldfan on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 12:46 AM
  • Bless you, Jonathon!

    -- Posted by bloomfieldfan on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 12:46 AM
  • Jonathan, you are an amazing person. I had the liberty of meeting you at the Kelley School of Business one day and remembered you from school as well. You are an absolute angel for this act of kindness.

    -- Posted by ldpadget on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 7:09 AM
  • awesome

    -- Posted by miner26 on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 3:54 PM

    -- Posted by KOUNTRYLADY on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 6:25 PM
  • Makes my heart smile.

    Are there any trusts set up for these people?

    -- Posted by Blueyedame on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 7:06 PM
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