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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Dad with Kidney Disease Breaks Down When He Wakes Up and Realizes Who His Kidney Donor Was

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Over a year ago, dad John Ivanowski of Kirkwood, Missouri, discovered he had a condition that caused his immune system to attack his kidneys. It was an Immunoglobulin A deficiency that forced him to start dialysis and the arduous task of finding a kidney donor.

“From there it’s just been dialysis every couple of days since then,” his daughter, Delayne Ivanowski, told KMOV. “So, for over a year, he’s been hooked up to a machine for three, four, five hours a day.

“It’s not the right quality of life I don’t think anyone should have to live in.”

Delayne is a nurse, so she has an especially good grasp on the situation. Knowing the implication and risks, she proposed a solution.

“So, then my first thought was, why can’t he just have my kidney right now,” she said.

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The problem? Dad. He point-blank refused to accept one of his daughter’s kidneys.

“I’m like, ‘You’re too young. You’ve got a long, you’ve got a long time to be here, and my time’s limited’,” he said.

And that was that. Or so he thought.

Delayne was serious, though, so she secretly began making arrangements to anonymously donate her kidney to her father despite his protestations.

“I don’t even know how I got his coordinator’s phone number, and I reached out to her, and I was like, ‘Hey, like how can I do this, like when can we start,'” she said. “And then as soon as he was good enough basically for the transplant, they started running me through like a bunch of tests.”

It took eight months of waiting, tests, paperwork and secrecy — but finally, on Feb. 16, John got a new kidney and a new lease on life.

Delayne shared the reveal video on social media.

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“Here’s the video of when I surprised my dad for the first time walking into his room showing him that I was his kidney donor,” Delayne shared on Facebook on Feb. 19. “Grab the tissues!”

A lot of people commented to scold John for his apparent lack of gratitude, as the video shows him breaking down into tears and not hugging his daughter or verbally thanking her — but the situation was more complicated than most people knew.

“I didn’t find out until the day of surgery and after we were post-op,” John explained about the identity of his donor. “She opened the door and came through, and I was just like, ‘Oh my Lord.'”

“I can’t stop crying,” he said. “I mean I was upset, but I’m so grateful … It’s just hard to describe.

“Not to be hooked up to the machine anymore and be able to do what I need to do or what I want to do, you know … It’s just a big relief.”

“He goes, ‘I knew you were up to something,'” Delayne admitted. “And I said, ‘Well I’m always up to something.'”

But that wasn’t all she was up to. Riding the wave of internet fame that the video brought the family, she took the opportunity to help raise funds for her dad’s medical costs.

“They’ve already gone through so much,” she explained. “Dialysis isn’t cheap. I thought, why not reach out to like social media, and I got a way bigger response than I ever was expecting to. I was so out of it, too. My phone was sitting, I remember, on my bedside table, and my boyfriend’s like, ‘What is going on. Turn your phone off.'”

So far, people have donated $12,800 dollars to the family’s GoFundMe to help with the hospital bills. Delayne is also encouraging those who can to consider donating a kidney.

“If you are going to give a kidney, it is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give in the world,” she added. “It’s literally like donating life.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking