With Christmas four days away, shoppers are scurrying to find that perfect gift: a sweater, a piece of jewelry, a toy. But beyond the glow of holiday lights, 62-year-old Brett Ashley is looking for a far different gift. He declares, “I’m looking for a kidney to save my life, very simply, but finding one is very challenging.”
The Great Neck resident recognizes the clock of time is running low as he approaches three years of waiting for a donor to replace his failing kidney.
A former member of the Merchant Marines and an avid fisherman, shley has lost much of his strength. He describes surviving these past three years “in one word: brutal.”
“Dialysis is hard on your body,” he said. “I come home exhausted, and a donated kidney would give me my life back.”
Mike lollo, the president of the National Kidney Donation Organization, points out that “dialysis is actually a bandaid, not a cure.” He says time is of the essence in finding a donor.
“People die while on dialysis waiting for an organ,” he said.
Ashley and his partner of 12 years remain optimistic. Ten potential donors in recent years failed to meet medical criteria to donate their kidney. He recognizes that he’s among 100,000 people on the national registry awaiting an organ translant. As time slips by, he’s realistic about the prognosis.
“Unfortunately, my prognosis is not good,” he says, adding “eventually, my organ will fail and I’ll become another statistic.”
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, there has been a sharp decline in the number of donors coming forward.
Mike lollo explains “because of the strain COVID is having on our hospital systems, it’s causing delays in procedures that have already been scheduled, and it’s preventing people from coming forward to be willing donors.”
Despite the setbacks and the agonizing wait for the right donor, Ashley says he’s not giving up.
“I’m a fighter,” he declares. “I’m doing and will continue to do till my last breath to find a living donor to help me.”
Ashley believes there’s someone out there with a big heart willing to celebrate Christmas by giving him a special gift: a gift of life — a kidney that will prolong his life beyond his 62 years.