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Health

Brother, can you spare a kidney?

Local family men need transplants

Two local family men in kidney failure are waiting for kidney transplants.

Martin Peto, 51, of Joliet has waited over two years for a transplant. Peto said he’s been told the wait is five to seven years for a cadaver kidney and has tried to find a living donor instead. Twice he’s come close.

Rob Hicks, 33, of Coal City is waiting for his second transplant. The first one failed in 2016. He’s been told that transplant should happen in about 30 days.

Why the time difference in the wait? Apparently one detail makes all the difference.

Rob Hicks

Hicks donated a kidney when he was 21, which puts him near the top of the donation list, he said, something health professionals told Hicks when he donated. Hicks didn’t know at the time kidney disease ran in his family.

In 2009, he developed bad headaches, which Hicks later learned was caused by the high blood pressure he didn’t know he had. Hicks, a pipefitter at the time, began taking medication to control it, but the disease damaged his kidneys anyway.

“When I first got diagnosed with kidney failure, I tried to work still and I actually fell off the scaffolding,” Hicks said. “I passed out from standing up too fast from all the blood pressure medicines I was taking.”

Hicks had the transplant in 2016. The kidney failed because of clotting. Hicks went back into surgery to remove and then back on hemodialysis. In order to return to the transplant list, he needed to complete an intense medical workup that required “gallons and gallons of blood.”

But Hicks’ mother died a month after the transplant. Ninety days later, his stepfather died. Three months after that his grandfather died. On Aug. 2, Hicks’ biological father died. On Sept. 30, Hicks finally went back on the transplant list.

This husband of Alyssa Hicks and father to Adam, 8; Ayden, 7; and Amelia, 5, wants to go back to work. Does he regret donating? Half and half. Rob said that if he knew then what he knows now, he “might not have been so quick donate.”

“But I don’t regret what I did,” Rob said.

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