DES MOINES, Iowa — There are close to 600 Iowans on the state’s organ transplant list and the majority of them need a kidney. The list is long and the wait to get a transplant is even longer. Iowans are waiting on average five years before receiving the life – changing procedure.
Waiting for something so crucial can feel like forever. Just ask Jim Steinberg of Adel. His kidneys began failing 15 years ago when he was 26.
“It was devastating. It was scary. I think, the only thing that had ever happened to me up until that point was I had a knee surgery,” he says. Steinberg needed a new kidney and fast. He waited for 14 months and spent most of that time of dialysis until his college baseball teammate stepped up to the plate and donated his.
“I go back and think of the gift of life that Ryan has given me. He enabled me to get married,” Steinberg says. A family eventually followed. Four years ago was one of the happiest moments of his life, when his wife gave birth to triplets. A few weeks later, Steinberg was dealt another devastating blow. His transplanted kidney had begun to fail. The thought of going through the procedure all over again makes him nervous. He says this time the stakes are higher.
“I definitely need this surgery to live longer. It will give me more bonus time to be with my family. More energy to play with them, to be there at their games, their dances, their graduations and everything beyond.”
Another one of Steinberg’s friends has agreed to donate his kidney to him. Although he needs the new kidney now, doctors say the old kidney is functioning at 24 – percent. It needs to be functioning at 15 – percent in order for the transplant to take place. While Steinberg waits for his third chance at life, he can’t help but to be thankful for his second chance.
“Before the transplant and before I was ill, two or three miles was probably the furthest I have ever run. Post transplant, I have done the Dam to Dam several times,” he says. “You make the most out of what you`ve been given.”
If all goes as a planned, Steinberg’s second transplant will take place this fall. His message to those who are still waiting for an organ is simple, “just hang in there.”