PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It has been nearly a month since a Salvation Army employee gave a co-worker a second chance at life.
One gave the other a kidney, and now both are doing great.
Mike Riemer, 55, is moved by the many cards he has received, some from strangers.
His kidney donor, 28-year-old Kate Esker, is happy to know that others now want to become living donors.
“I hope to inspire people, two people said they are going to look into getting checked to see if they can donate… been pretty inspiring,” said Esker.
Let’s go back to June 9.
Riemer knew for more than 30 years that his kidneys were failing; he has polycystic kidney disease. His mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all died from PKD.
After going public with his need for a donor, 17 people volunteered. Esker, Riemer’s Salvation Army co-worker, was a perfect match.
It is something Riemer says he thinks of often.
“I reflect on this multiple times every day,” he said. “I’m so grateful to the Salvation Army, to Kate Esker and her husband, and to God for making this happen.”
The two families got together Tuesday for the first time since the surgery in June.
“The joke was that we found the fountain of youth the hard way. A 28-year-old kidney with 28-year-old hormones is in my body now. I can’t remember when I felt this good,” said Riemer.
And Esker says, “I felt confident all the way through, and to hear all the good things from Mike.”
Esker was back at work two weeks after the surgery. Riemer hopes to return in another month.