OSKALOOSA, Iowa – Shane Blanchard has defied the odds for most of his life. As he awaits for what could potentially be his third kidney transplant, he’ll need that luck once again.
Blanchard was born with a rare disease with no abdominal muscles, leading to kidney failure by the age of 22 because of reconstruction on his urinary track. In 1997, Blanchard’s brother donated his kidney – but by around 2019, that kidney began to fail. WHO 13 interviewed Blanchard back in July 2019, when his best friend Brad Hendrickson stepped up as the second kidney donor in Blanchard’s life.
The two lifelong best friends went ahead with the transplant surgery, but it wasn’t long before complications arose and Blanchard had to have Hendrickson’s kidney removed.
“I had several complications from that failure, because they remember the kidney and the artery that it was connected to opened up. And so I ended up bleeding internally into myself and so that was a long process,” Blanchard said.
Blanchard said although his blood type is AB positive – which is universal – he has extremely high antibodies from all of his blood transfusions.
“It’s very unlikely I’ll ever find a match so my only hope is to find another living donor,” he said.
As of now, he undergoes dialysis about three times a week, which he said is physically and mentally exhausting, on top of a 32-hour work week and maintaining an active lifestyle.
“You just got to stay positive and get through it and know that there’s going to be light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
Blanchard said what keeps him motivated to keep fighting isn’t just for his own life, but for helping others. He said he is an advocate at his dialysis center, and takes pride in working to help encourage others in similar situations.
“That’s what keeps me going is I want to motivate other people and let them know that you know there is life at the end of the end of kidney failure,” he said.
Donor exchange programs allow people to apply to be donors for a specific individual, like Blanchard. For example, if someone applies to be a donor for Blanchard and is not a match, their organ can still save the life of someone else, and Blanchard will then be guaranteed a kidney if there is another match within 30 days.