Jon with his living kidney donors mom Betty (left) and wife Joyce (right)
Jon Myers had a kidney transplant at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in 1974…and in 2012. The first time, he spent six weeks in the hospital, unable to leave his room. More recently, he was in the hospital only five days. His first donor, his mother Betty was hospitalized for two weeks. His second donor, his wife Joyce was in the hospital for only three days.
“While many things have changed, others haven’t. I’ve had unbelievable experiences at Ohio State,” explains Jon, who lives in Columbus. “It’s a relaxed, calm environment, and everybody is on the same page. The service, from the person who brings you dinner to the nurses and doctors, is great.”
Jon needed new kidneys because he was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease when he was 15. He received his first transplant at 19.
“Back then, I didn’t want to be different, so I hid the fact that I needed dialysis,” he says. “You had to be on the machine for eight to nine hours at a time, three times a week. It made me sick. The dialysis was worse than the disease.”
The first transplant was so successful that Jon says he sometimes forgot he’d had a transplant. He ran marathons, mountain-biked and played sports. Then, after 37 years with his mom’s kidney, he began to feel tired.
“I tried to attribute it to other causes, but eventually I learned my kidney function wasn’t good anymore,” says Jon. “My doctor told me I’d need dialysis again. Fortunately, dialysis today is a lot better and I could still be active.”
Jon’s wife of 25 years, Joyce, was excited to learn she was a match and could donate a kidney to him. The transplant took place in April 2012 at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.
“I’ve always respected Joyce and her generosity toward others, but the respect and love I feel now are even greater,” says Jon. “It has made us closer, if that’s possible. We are truly more than one now. She’s amazing, and she saved my life.”
Jon says having strong women (his kidney donors) in his life has made him realize what being a man is really about.
“When I was younger, I didn’t tell people I’d had a kidney transplant because I didn’t think it was ‘manly,’” he shares. “My outlook about transplantation is so different now. Dialysis isn’t fun. Some people, of course, have no chance of transplant, but others do. I want to get the word out about organ donation. I surely have benefited from it and will be grateful forever.”
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