by: Hope Jensen Updated:
GREENSBORO, Ga. - A Georgia family is reaching out to the community for help in their search for a kidney for their loved one.
Raleigh Callaway is a 24-year veteran investigator for the city of Greensboro Police Department. He’s also a father to a 19-year-old son, and 4 and 2-year-old daughters.
“He just is an amazing man and just amazing at everything he does,” said his wife, Kristi Callaway. “(He’s) well-loved in the community. He is the one person anybody knows they can call on and everybody knows he will help.”
But now, Kristi says, Raleigh is the one who needs help. For the past 10 years, his kidney function has been going downhill. Kristi says she knew it was a problem and would constantly ask him about his labs, to which he would reply, ‘They’re fine.’ However, earlier this year Kristi received the shock of a lifetime.
“He told me that he was in stage 5 kidney failure, which is referred in the medical community as end-stage renal failure,” she said.
Doctors say Raleigh’s kidneys are functioning at just 10 percent, which has made him anemic to the point of requiring weekly injections to stimulate red blood cell production.
Kristi says it’s hard to believe someone who appears so healthy can be so sick.
“He is 100 percent involved in raising our girls and house work. He works full time and he works other security jobs once he gets off. Most of the doctors he’s come across don’t know how he’s putting one foot in front of the other,” she said.
Kristi says over the past few years he’s completely changed his diet, cutting out red meat and eating lots of greens. He’s taken all his medications and kept up with his regular doctors’ appointments.
“(Those changes) and just God are what’s keeping him going, keeping him healthy,” said Kristi. “I have constantly prayed for his kidney function. I know Raleigh prays every day.”
Now, they say they are relying on their faith in God to help find a donor for Raleigh.
“Just staying strong in our faith, and believing that something is going to happen and he will receive a kidney,” said Kristi.
On Monday, Raleigh had an evaluation at Emory University Hospital. They met with a financial coordinator, transplant coordinator, nutritionist and social worker. Raleigh will have scans completed on Aug. 5 to officially be placed on the transplant list.
In the meantime, Kristi says the transplant specialist told them to begin looking for living donors, because receiving a transplant form a living donor can increase life span between five and 15 years.
Kristi, with the help of her photographer Brandy Angel Photography, took to Facebook in search of a donor.
She shared photos of their family with their daughters, Delaini and Braleigh, holding a sign that said, “Our daddy needs a kidney.”
The post says, “Since the age of 34, he has fought like a warrior against diabetes, hypertension and chronic kidney disease. At the age of 49, despite all that he’s done to break the cycle, genetics have reared their ugly head and taken over his body, nearly completely.”
In the next 30 days it is likely that Raleigh will begin dialysis. He will be connected to a machine each night while he waits for a transplant. During the day, he will continue serving the community as an investigator.
“How does this affect our family? Just to name a few. Raleigh is at an increased risk of developing a hernia if he lifts more than 20 pounds. Our girls weigh 30 and 42 pounds, so plane rides and air tosses will have to wait until…,” said Kristi’s post.
Raleigh’s blood type is AB+, meaning he is a universal recipient of all blood types. The key factor when determining compatibility is the reactivity of Raleigh’s antibodies to the potential donor’s antibodies, which can be found by a simple blood test.
“Our girls adore their daddy as if he hung the sun, moon and stars. Our girls deserve to have their father walk them down the aisle and he can’t bear the thought of not seeing them on their wedding day. A new kidney would give him the life and time needed to witness the birth of our grandchildren. One person, just one person, could change our entire family’s lives forever,” said Kristi.
If you are interested in helping Raleigh you can contact the Emory transplant center at 855-366-7989. Let them know you are interested in being tested as a donor match for Raleigh Callaway, birthdate 3/6/65.
Common questions answered in Kristi’s post:
---What if I don’t know my blood type? It’s okay! Raleigh’s blood type is AB+ and is considered the universal recipient, meaning he can accept blood from anybody. The key factor when determining compatibility is the reactivity of Raleigh’s antibodies to the potential donor’s antibodies. A simple blood test can provide this information.
---What if I don’t have insurance to cover the testing and surgery if I am a match? It’s okay! For any potential donor without insurance, Raleigh’s insurance will pay for testing of all potential donors as well as surgery if you are the match we’re praying to find. For those with insurance, you may or may not have “donor benefits”. If you don’t, again, Raleigh’s insurance will cover all expenses. If you do have donor benefits, Raleigh’s insurance will pay any fees your insurance doesn’t cover.
---What is the recovery time if I am a match and donate my kidney? The donor’s recovery time is much less than Raleigh’s – typically 3-7 days. Raleigh’s recovery time will be 8-12 weeks after receiving a transplant.
---Will I be reimbursed for travel, lodging and time missed from work if I donate my kidney? Not through Raleigh’s insurance, but there is a fund to cover these expenses.
---Will my one remaining kidney be able to function as two? Yes! Most donors’ remaining kidney actually grows slightly in order to take over the full role. The kidney function of donors pre-donation compared to post-donation is generally the same or very close to.
---Restrictions: If the donor is African American and has high blood pressure, they can't donate. If a Caucasian is under the age of 45 and has high blood pressure, they can't donate. If a Caucasian is over age 45 with high blood pressure, they CAN donate if their blood pressure is controlled by one medication. Donors with multiple bouts with kidney stones can't donate. Doctors say race doesn’t matter when it comes to transplants. The family urges anyone who may be unsure whether they are a suitable donor to contact the transplant center for more information.