One day at work, Richard Ruth found himself struggling to breathe.
He went to the doctor, who gave him a prescription for prednisone. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
This was back in the early 90s, while Ruth was working at Lockheed in Sunnyvale.
Since then, Ruth has watched his kidney functioning steadily decline…
“Diabetes is detrimental to your body,” said Ruth. “I’ve been taking blood tests on a regular basis now. Normal kidney function is somewhere around 60% capacity and up. And mine is 20%.”
As his kidneys declined, Ruth sat down with his doctor to discuss next steps. Ruth let it be known that he was open to the possibility of a kidney transplant. The doctor referred him to the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), ranked one of the top five hospitals for treating kidneys by the U.S. News & World Report.
This past August, Ruth went up to UCSF and underwent a series of tests.
Doctors told him they had qualms about doing a transplant:
“At first, they were reluctant to do a kidney transplant on me because the cutoff age is 70,” said Ruth, who will be turning 86 at the end of November.
However, after taking a look at his blood test and his heart, they found the general health of his body to be better than that of most people his age. So they agreed to do the transplant, but only under one condition: Ruth must find a live kidney donor.
Reason being, if Ruth was to get on a donor list to wait for a deceased kidney donor, it could take almost a decade. Given Ruth’s age, along with the current state of his kidney functioning, that simply was not an option. Meanwhile, kidneys from living donors last longer and function better.
However, finding a person ready and willing to donate a kidney can be a challenge; one that Ruth is currently deep in the middle of.
He has been searching for the perfect donor for the past few months now. Ideally, someone who is in good health, between the ages of 18 and 70, and has blood type O.
If a person is interested but doesn’t have blood type O, they could get on a kidney chain, which helps facilitate recipient and donor matches:
“Let’s say a person who’s blood type A goes into the chain, and on it, there are a bunch of other people, who weren’t an exact match for their recipients,” explained Ruth. “There may be an O down here, which can be my kidney donor. And that person’s kidney here, the A goes somewhere else. It’s a good mechanism to make it a little easier to find a live kidney donor.”
Ruth, who has been a Milpitas resident since 1963, has been making every effort to reach out to the community to spread the word about his search for a donor.
He and his wife Patricia have lived in the same house (their second home in Milpitas) for the past several decades. They also raised five children here in the city.
Ruth retired from Lockheed in 1995, and since then has kept active, attending auto shows, rebuilding a sports car, and even serving as President of the Board of Directors at Terrace Gardens, a senior housing community on Beresford Ct.
Initially, Ruth was given three months to find a live donor. That time has since been extended by a year. If Ruth finds someone after one year’s time, UCSF will have to re-evaluate him again and perform more tests, and then decide if the transplant is still a viable option.
To spread the word, Ruth has started a Facebook page, and even taken out an ad in The Milpitas Post (this past September), but he hasn’t garnered any interest yet.
Ruth, who notes that all medical expenses for the donor will be covered by his insurance company, understands that deciding to become a kidney donor is not easy. “After the surgery, it does take a couple of weeks for them to get back to 100%. The other thing people worry about is, ‘I’m losing a kidney; what’s that going to do to me?’ But the thing is, two kidneys give you four times the cleansing capacity that your body needs. Take out one and you have twice the amount of capacity that your body needs.”
An open letter written by Richard Ruth about his search has been included here below…
AN APPEAL FOR A GIFT OF LIFE
Life’s journey is a long path with branches that have good outcomes, as well as difficulties along the way. I’m at one of those points. I’m a diabetic and as a consequence of that, there are troubles with my kidneys.
My health provider, University of California San Francisco (UCSF), has said that in order to continue this life means I must have a kidney transplant. In other words: My health can sustain this event if I can find a living kidney donor.
So now I embark on that search.
I am currently looking for a living donor who is willing, and is healthfully compatible and between the ages of 18 and 70, to become a partner with me in the journey that I am undergoing at this point in my life.
To be a living donor means that you would essentially be giving me the gift of life.
Your donated kidney would restore my body’s blood cleaning capacity and my body would be healthier again. At the same time, your own kidney function would not be materially lessened. Having two kidneys provides four times the capacity needed for good health. One kidney provides two times that requirement in a healthy person.
You can be my living donor if you’re a blood type “O” and, if you’re not the same blood type you can still be a donor in a “chain” of donors one of which would be of the right blood type for me. Being a kidney donor adds reality to our daily prayers for the sick by actually saving a life.
If you would like to reach out to me, and learn more about me and what being a donor would entail, please send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If your health does not allow you to be a donor then I hope you would pass this message to someone in your circle who might want to donate.
Thank you so much for your time. I would be immensely grateful for your consideration regarding this matter.