Perfect Match: NWU Employee Donates Kidney to Co-Worker's Wife
The Nebraska Wesleyan University maintenance staff is some of the earliest to arrive on campus every day.
They have classrooms and residence halls to clean, events to set up for to welcome the university’s newest visitors, and snow to scoop on the coldest days.
They get to know each other well, almost like family. Which isn’t surprising considering there aren’t too many others around to talk to at 5 a.m.
On one of those early mornings Brian Benes learned about fellow co-worker Joel Moore’s personal challenges. Moore’s wife, Lori, had been suffering from kidney disease for years and was on the list for a kidney donation. So far, no match.
Living with kidney disease, Lori’s days were dictated by dialysis. She would work full time, come home for dinner, and then immediately get hooked up to the machine that would clean her blood of toxins, a process which took almost three hours, five times a week for three and a half years. While connected to the dialysis machine, Lori couldn’t move from a sitting position or else she might faint or set off an alarm.
Dialysis affected their lives in many ways especially the time commitment and difficulties of planning around the dialysis. There were many other less apparent side effects too such as the inability to go on a vacation. The Moores tried once, but had trouble getting their airline to allow the dialysis machine on the plane, even with a doctor’s note.
As soon as he heard of the Moore’s troubles, Benes felt he had to do something.
“I talked to Joel and he told me about Lori and her situation,” said Benes. “Basically, I had an immediate desire to get tested.”
He did just that. The entire screening process lasted from late October to early January, involved several psychological and medical tests, and lots of blood draws for both Lori and Benes. After the final test, Benes was declared a match.
“They really dot the i’s and cross their t’s to make sure everything’s going to be successful,” Benes said.
They both went in for surgery on May 29, and three months later, both Lori and Benes are completely recovered.
With the new kidney, there’s no need for dialysis, although Lori still takes nearly 30 pills each day. Still, compared to the challenges of her life before, this change is a blessing, she said.
One would think that Benes’ donation would change his relationship with the Moores. However, apart from including Lori in his and Joel’s interactions more often, Benes says this isn’t the case.
“We were friends before,” he said.
“And we still will be,” Joel added.
Throughout the surgery and recovery process, Benes and the Moores received countless well wishes from the Wesleyan community.
“It’s a really nice feeling to have,” Lori said. “It brightened my day, getting a card and knowing someone cares.”
“I would say a lot of job atmospheres don’t have this much of a family feeling,” he said. “Maybe it’s waking up at 5 a.m. that bonds people, but people care about you at Nebraska Wesleyan. I feel that personally, and I think others can feel it in other situations.”
“Just being able to do something big for someone else that doesn’t impact your life in a drastic negative way… why would I not do that?” Benes continued.
Lori is quick to reinforce the sentiment.
“No gift is too small to change someone’s life for the better, whether it’s donating blood, plasma, or an organ,” she said.