Monday, June 18, 2018
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Since childhood, women wanted to donate to help others in need

Second of two parts

Barb Staroscik believes in organ donation.

The nurse for Dr. Tom Pagona, a Kearney cardiologist who sees patients at Gothenburg Memorial Hospital each month, said she’s wanted to donate her body to science since high school.

So when she had a chance to give a kidney to a family friend, Staroscik didn’t hesitate a minute.

“I saw him at my parents’ 50th anniversary and he looked so poorly,” she said.

She discovered the recipient had earlier received a heart transplant. After years of taking an anti-rejection drug, his kidneys were not functioning properly.

Several relatives were tested to see if they could be a match but they were not, Staroscik said.

Because she works in a doctor’s office, Staroscik said it was easy to make contact with the Nebraska Medical Center’s transplant department and be tested.

Hers was a 95% match.

The single mother of two said she had two qualifications for the recipient—that he be Christian and serve as a father figure to her son.

In early 2011, Staroscik said it looked as though the transplant would happen until the recipient developed some complications.

“If everything isn’t perfect, it won’t work,” she explained.

The stars must have aligned perfectly the end of March when Staroscik was wheeled into surgery. There an incision was made below her belly button and three holes placed in her side so surgeons could detach her left kidney laparascopically.

“They put the kidney in a bowl and took it across the hall to the recipient,” Staroscik said. “The second they hooked it up, it turned from purple to pink and started producing urine immediately.”

Since then, she said the recipient has been doing remarkable.

While in the hospital, she said she was cared for wonderfully.

“People who give organs are better taken care of than recipients,” Staroscik explained. “They are screened more because the last thing the transplant team wants is to have everything go bad.”

Staroscik spent a week at home recovering and returned to work too soon.

“I didn’t take it easy because I’m a farm girl,” she said, noting that she developed a hernia during her recovery.

In retrospect, Staroscik said the experience was God inspiring.

“I’d give someone else a kidney if I could,” she said.

When Bonnie Hasse of Grand Island heard from friends how a 10-year-old needed a kidney, she knew why she’d survived a painful accident.

At 4 months old, Hasse suffered third-degree burns from a vaporizer and spent months in a hospital and years receiving painful skin grafts.

“I got a second chance at life and knew God put me here for some reason,” Haase said. “I’d never met Bridgit but heard her story from her aunt and uncle.”

Bridgit needed a new kidney after damage from E. coli bacteria poisoning when she was a toddler.

Following screening, Hasse was a match and decided to give her kidney to help Bridgit live.

“I was supported by my husband and my two daughters were out of college,” she said. “I had lived my life and this girl needed a transplant.”

After the operation, which at the time couldn’t be done laparascopically, Haase needed several weeks to recover.

Once home, Bridgit’s aunt and uncle brought food to Hasse’s home and helped her walk around the block. Her husband was also there to support her.

During a six-week checkup after the surgery, doctors prescribed iron.

“I bounced right back,” she said.

These days, she said the only reminder of the surgery is when she doesn’t drink enough water.

“Then I get a side ache,” Hasse said.

Bridget is now 20 and in college.

A reminder of their special bond is a pearl necklace Hasse gave Bridget.

“I add to it each year to remind us of another year gone by,” she said.

Before giving a kidney, or other organ, both Hasse and Staroscik said to make sure “it’s something you really want to do.”

“Mentally you have to really want to do it,” Hasse said, noting that family support is also important. “If I had a million more kidneys, I’d give them all.”

Staroscik urged those interested in kidney donation to call the Nebraska Medical Center and talk to Connie Lykke, the transplant coordinator.

Lykke can be reached at 800-401-4444.

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