There are fewer times that you have to rely so heavily on the goodness of others as when you become ill. When all the little daily chores you used to do become too difficult to complete by yourself, it’s up to friends, family and loved ones to make sure you get the help you need while you recover.
Sometimes it takes more than kindness and the sacrifice of time or money; sometimes helping someone requires a sacrifice of self.
Ryan Armistead, an officer with the Old Monroe Police Department in Missouri, found out four years ago that his kidneys were failing. After going to the doctor’s office to look into his frequent headaches, he received a call no one wants to get.
“You need to go to a hospital, you’re at 13 percent kidney function,” the doctors told him, according to Fox News. He immediately started dialysis and was told that it could take up to seven years before he could get a kidney transplant.
“So, we just look at it as five to seven years of a bump in the road before we can go back to a normal life,” he said.
In the beginning, he went for dialysis three times a week for four hours, but that was eventually upped to 15 hours, at which point he decided to get an in-home dialysis machine so he could spend more time with his family.
He was still working as a police officer, but the cost of his treatments was taking a financial toll on the family. On top of the 10 medications he had to take daily, the cost of the in-home dialysis was about $30,000 a month.
“It’s hard on everybody ’cause you have to revolve your life around this,” he said. His young son, now 5, only understood a little of what was going on.
“He just knows Daddy’s got to have his shots,” Armistead said.
The Armisteads started a Facebook page and a GoFundMe to try to raise money for care and find a match. News outlets picked up their story as well in an attempt to find a solution for the struggling family.
Fortunately, their story was circulated until it fell in front of the eyes of Abbie Dunkle, a mother of two from Illinois. Dunkle had wanted to be a donor for years, so she started the process. She was a match and was ready to help.
In December, the Armisteads got a message on their Facebook page from Dunkle.
“Hi Ryan, My name is Abbie and a few months ago your news story showed up on my facebook feed and I started the process to see if I might be a match for you,” the message began, according to a screenshot of the message that Inside Edition was given.
“I finished the process last week and we are a match! I was told today that your transplant coordinator should contact you next week to tell you, but I figured you may not want to wait that long to find out.
“If you are not wanting to be in touch, I completely understand and you don’t need to respond unless you’d like to. Please don’t feel obligated, but I am happy to get to know you before the transplant if you’d like.”
The officer’s reaction was immediate. “I literally fell to me knees and broke down in tears,” Armistead said. “So did my wife.”
The Armisteads and Dunkle met before Christmas, and they all got along great.
“We all just kind of hit it off. He’s just like a regular guy,” Dunkle said. “This could happen to anyone.”
On Jan. 22 the operations took place, and life is very different for Armistead now.
“I’m great,” he said. “I feel amazing. I’m up, moving around. I just feel a whole lot better. It’s a little sore, but what do you expect?”
The family is still figuring out how they’re going to pay all of the expenses, but for now, Armistead is grateful to have his health back thanks to his new-to-him kidney.
“We’ll just have to make payments as best we can,” he said. “They can’t come repo it.”
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