COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - On June 8th, 59-year-old Paul McIntosh became the 102nd kidney transplant recipient at Fort Wayne's Lutheran Hospital.
Paul was diagnosed with Wagner's disease three years ago, and within six months his kidneys were functioning at less than 15%. He was on dialysis five times a day, seven days a week, requiring him to be on a very strict schedule.
Soon he needed a kidney transplant. Fortunately, having a transplant center located within Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne meant the McIntosh family wouldn't have to drive back and forth to Indianapolis.
Paul has been married to his wife, Vicky, for almost 41 years. They have four children together, and all four of them were eager to be donors. Paul's youngest daughter, Bobbie, was a match. She instantly told her father, who was reluctant to let his daughter go through the surgery, that she wasn't taking no for an answer.
Vicky says that didn't surprise her. She and Paul have always raised their children to help others, and their family has always been very close.
On June 8th, Bobbie's kidney was transplanted into Paul. The surgery was a success, but the road to recovery has been a shaky one.
Indiana's NewsCenter caught up with the McIntosh family Tuesday after one of Paul's routine check-ins with Dr. John Ducker at Lutheran Hospital.
"The first day after the surgery, I felt really great," says Paul. "I couldn't believe how good I felt. I didn't know what was coming up. It got a whole lot worse."
"I was worried at first, because three weeks after the transplant, the disease came back," Paul recalls. "They had it suppressed, but it came back anyway and it started attacking the new kidney. Then, the lab work started coming up and showing better numbers all the time. Now it's perfect. It's showing perfect numbers."
Dr. Ducker says Paul has been able to overcome any complications, and is currently doing very well. "Right now he has a functioning graph that's doing perfectly."
Paul, a professional welder and avid outdoorsman, still takes 28 pills a day, but he's back to enjoying life again. "I went back to work on September the 26th," he says. "This is my fourth week. I'm actually working some overtime."
"He no longer has to do exchanges," says Dr. Ducker. "He still has to take a lot of medications, but his energy level and everything else has improved dramatically with the transplant."
It's enough to bring tears to Vicky's eyes. She says when Paul was on dialysis, it was a struggle for her as well as her husband. "Now, we can go out and enjoy a meal and time together without having to stop and hurry up and get back home." She says they are also able to visit family members with far less worries.
Bobbie, the donor, is doing well too. "I'm feeling fine, great. I actually have to remind myself that I had a surgery."
Bobby only took two weeks off of work following the transplant surgery. "I'm living the same life style as I did before. I wasn't told I had to do anything different. The only thing is when I do play contact sports, I have to wear a kidney belt."
Paul is now spending lots of time fishing and showing off his 1969 El Camino. He put six years of work into the car, but never took it out of the garage until after his surgery.
"The week after I got done, I took it to a car show and got first place," says Paul smiling. Since then, he says it's won at least 100 other trophies and titles.
A friend of the family also designed some bright green bracelets that read, "Praying for Paul." Vicky says it's particularly moving to see so many people in their community wearing the bands in support of her husband's journey.
It is a journey that has changed the lives of everyone in the McIntosh family. Bobbie says, "It made me a different person - a stronger person. I actually have this - I call it my kidney ring. It has the date of the transplant on it, and on the inside it has the serenity prayer, because it was something I could change, and I'm glad I did."
Paul says he feels like this journey has been like climbing a mountain, but he finally feels as though he's reached the summit.
*Paul, Vicky, and Bobbie would also like to send a special thank you and hello to their daughter, son-in-law and grandson living in Mexico. They send their love to Jason, Missy, and Alec!
**The McIntosh family would also like to recognize their five wonderful grandchildren - Adam, Alec, Andrew, Holly, and Jay!
***Attached is video from Tuesday's follow up with the McIntosh family. To find out more about Paul's transplant surgery, please select the link under "Related Content."
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