When your kidney’s don’t work, dialysis is what keeps you alive. John Cook has spent countless hours having his blood cleaned and waiting for a new kidney. Seconds seemed like minutes, hours like days.
“They might call me any time,” John said when he was just in the second grade. “They might call me right now.”
Amazingly, the calls came not once, not twice, but three times. The last call came on July 27, 2012 and just in the nick of time. John, now almost 19, had almost given up hope. He told his parents he was done with dialysis. Then, last summer, the transplant doctors called John’s mom – again – and told her they had a match.
“She came home and said, ‘Get out of bed. We’re going to Minnesota.’ She was crying too,” says John.
There was reason to cry. Doctors say getting two kidneys is like winning the lottery. Getting a third, might be called a miracle.
“It feels pretty good that you got a good working kidney.”
John understand he’s fortunate, to say the least. It’s one reason he’s reaching out to other kids with renal disease. He launched a Facebook page and then got non-profit status for his foundation.
“And then when we got that, it really took off.”
The foundation is called Guts Gear, named in part after the “Guts Award” John won when he wrestled for Roosevelt High School. The other reason it’s called Guts Gear:
“It takes guts, you know, to keep going.”
The goal is to give a voice to the thousands of kids on dialysis and to give them something to do while they’re dilating.
“Like I-Pads, things the kids can sit and do and not be crazy and not be wild, but at least have entertainment,” says Guts Gear Board Member, Jill Oman. “Before, there just really weren’t a lot of options.”
Jill is also a long time family friend. She watched John endure hour after hour of dialysis.
“I think it’s amazing first of all. He’s been through so much and this has given him a purpose.”
A purpose and a passion to help other kids pass the time.