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All I Want for Christmas is a Kidney

A note from Joshua Bowens



I bet you have asked yourself at least once over the last several months, “where is the drummer?”. Although drumming in the worship team is one of my favorite things to do, I haven’t been physically able to play for a while due to my medical diagnosis. This has been a very difficult time for my family and me, especially because there are no easy solutions. I am currently in need of a kidney, and without one, I may not survive much longer.

A little about me and my family

My wife, Jennifer and I have been married for a little over 12 years. We have three kids: Kadence – 11, Holden – 9, and Isaiah – 4. We have been attending Calvary Chapel Brighton for almost 5 years now, and during that time, I have been honored to play in the worship band. My wife serves in the children’s ministry. We used to live in Brighton, but moved out to Aurora because of our jobs, but we have continued to go to CCB because we consider everyone there our family. When we’re not at church, my wife is a Principal for G.O.A.L. Academy High School, and I – just having earned my doctorate in Higher Education – work at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Our children are in 5th, 4th, and in pre-k.

A little about my diagnosis

During a regular checkup, the doctors noticed that my kidneys were not functioning correctly. After many tests, I was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), but the doctors were perplexed as to why. I was in good health otherwise – just my kidneys weren’t working as they should. But, if I ate well, exercised, and took good overall care of my body, I should be ok... should being the key word, as they didn’t know what caused the CKD. Unfortunately, despite following the doctors’ advice, my kidneys have continued to deteriorate, and I now currently have less than 5% kidney function.

Why is This a Serious Issue?

Kidneys filter out the toxins in the body – without kidneys, the toxins from the foods we eat every day build up in the body, causing it to shut down. According to my doctor, people that have less than 5% kidney function rarely live much longer. In order to try and increase the length of a person’s life, dialysis must be given several times a week. Dialysis uses a machine to clean the blood of the toxins that have built up. The problem is that dialysis is a lengthy and rough process; I must be hooked up to the dialysis machine for a minimum of 4 hours a day, 4 times a week.

Unfortunately, dialysis can only be a short-term solution, as people only survive on dialysis for an average of 5 years – and this is very limited because of the sheer time dialysis takes per day. The solution is to get a kidney transplant. The problem is that – here in Colorado – the average wait time for a kidney from a deceased donor is currently 5-7 years, meaning that many people die while waiting for a kidney. Therefore, the best option that I have to receive a kidney is from a living kidney donor.

Living Kidney Donor?

Because a person can live with only one kidney, living donation offers a better choice for quality – and length – of life. With living donation, a patient may be able to receive a transplant in 1 year or less.

This was our plan – my wife is in good health, so we thought that she could be a viable donor, and I would be able to receive a kidney transplant quickly and avoid the harsh toll of long-term dialysis on my body. Unfortunately, we learned that Jennifer was not a viable donor candidate.

Receiving the news that Jennifer could not be a donor was devastating, because we now have no idea when – or if – I will be able to receive a kidney, thus having to continue dialysis while not knowing how long my body can withstand the toll dialysis places on the body.

This is why we need your help. Although family members are usually seen as the most likely candidate to be compatible, many people undergo successful transplants with kidneys donated from people that are not related to them.

How Do I See If I am Able to Donate a Kidney?

I know that God has a plan, and although I don’t know what that is, I am trusting Him. Perhaps He is calling you to be part of this plan?

First, please pray about it and see if that is something that God is calling you to do – if it is and you are considering becoming a living kidney, I want to say thank you. I know that can be a big step of faith.

Second, I would encourage you to either call the number for the living donation hotline, or complete the living donation questionnaire online. The number to call for more information is 1-720-754-2155 option 3, or you can go to PSLMC.com/LivingKidneyDonor. You will be assigned a donor advocate that will ensure all of your personal questions are answered and ensure that you are fully informed at every step of the process.

Paired Kidney Donation

Generally speaking, interested kidney donors will go through a comprehensive medical exam to see if they are a viable candidate. Once this is complete, they can see if you are a match for me – there are some blood type and protein matches that must take place to be considered a match for me.

The biggest hurdle is to simply be a viable donor. If you are a viable donor, but not a match for me, there is a process called paired donation, where we would be matched up with another pair that are not a match for each other that is match and they would receive a kidney from our group, and I would receive a kidney from their group.

Additionally, if you have any more questions for me, or would like to know more, please feel free to reach out to me. My email is Joshua.Bowens@ymail.com, and my phone number is (970) 208-4664.

In His Grace,

Joshua Bowens and Family