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Author Topic: Virginia Man Receives Kidney from Priest  (Read 3266 times)

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Offline Fr Pat

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Virginia Man Receives Kidney from Priest
« on: August 17, 2013, 08:10:45 PM »
August 16, 2013, "Catholic News Service", by Steve Neill
     TAPPAHANNOCK, VA.- Bruce McComb says he owes his life to his pastor, Father Jonathan Goertz of St. Timothy Parish in Tappahannock.
     His statement, voiced in strong admiration, is not far from the truth.
     McComb, 60, was in desperate need of a kidney transplant. He had been on dialysis for three and one half years and had retired at age 54 because of kidney disease. He had previously received a kidney from his wife, Mimi, in 2002, which was deemed to be a match, but his body later rejected it after he developed sepsis after what he called "a botched hernia surgery" which had caused him to develop sepsis.
     Meanwhile, Father Goertz, 31, had explored the possibility of donating a kidney to someone who needed one and was the right match.
     "I had already looked into being a donor before this, " he told the Catholic Virginian, newspaper of the Richmond Diocese.
     After contacting the National Living Kidney Register, he was told he would have to undergo some testing.
     "They wanted a doctor to do some basic tests to see if I could be an eligible donor to anybody," Father Goertz said, adding that the likelihood of finding someone who would be compatible with his kidney was good. In March he went for tests at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond.
     "They told me, 'Once we put you into the system, there are 100,000 Americans who are on the waiting list and you are going to match with somebody,'" the priest said.
     He had learned of McComb's need for a kidney and wanted to help him if possible.
     "It always strikes me when I meet somebody who has any kind of need- physical, spiritual or emotional- is it possible that I could be the person who can respond to this need?" Father Goertz said.
     The priest spoke with McComb after Mass on Palm Sunday. "He said he wanted to give me a kidney and that blew me away," McComb said.
     Retired the past 6 years, he had been trying for 4 years to get a new kidney.  Six people, including family members and friends, were tested to see if they were a match, but weren't.
     Surgeons at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore told him that he would be a candidate for a cadaver kidney transplant. He was in the operating room there, prepped for surgery,  but doctors found the kidney of the deceased person would not work.
     "God aligned the stars for me at Church (on Palm Sunday) and for Father Jonathan to be not only my pastor, but the one I had no antibodies against," McComb said. "He was a perfect match and he was unwaveringly willing to do it. I still find it very thought-provoking that he and I would meet in the small town of Tappahahannok and, by the grace of God, I  happened to be helped      physically, and received spiritual help also."
     The 2 men had medical tests before undergoing the transplant surgery, which took place at Johns Hopkins June 11.
     "The most important moment came the night before the surgery," Mimi McComb said. "Father Jonathan came with the oils and gave the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. He invited me to join him in the laying on of hands for Bruce's healing. It left Bruce in a state of absolute calmness for the surgery."
     "It's rare that the donor anoints the receiver," Bruce McComb said, smiling.
     Surgery the next day went smoothly. Fr. Goertz spent 3 days in the hospital; McComb 6 days. Both men are doing fine.
     The priest said some friends and family members cautioned him about donating his kidney, which he said showed their loving concern for him.
     "As a pastor, as a shepherd, it would be irresponsible to ignore my health and not tend to the needs of my flock," Fr. Goertz said. "I kept asking God and kept asking the doctors, doing my own research, and it was confirmed over and over that I would have some temporary impact from the surgery but that there would be no adverse effects on my life and ministry with one kidney."
     Before agreeing to donate the kidney, he consulted Msgr. Mark R. Lane, Richmond's vicar general and vicar for clergy and got his best wishes.
     "A priest. even from before the time of Christ, has been defined as one who offers sacrifice," Fr. Goertz said. "The most important way I offer sacrifice is to stand at the altar and participate in the sacrifice of the Eucharist. Bit I also sacrifice for others. My kidney donation to Bruce is one of the most obvious, but it is certainly not the only way." he added, "Sacrifice is a real aspect of the life of every Christian. We are all called to make real, significant, difficult, maybe painful sacrifices in some way. We constantly discern what it means to each of us."


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