About a year ago, one Ashland native did not think he would live to celebrate another Christmas holiday.
Not only does Thomas “Bobby” Inge have the kidney from a successful transplant he waited almost four years for, he also has hope.
“After they turned me down twice, I had given up on getting a transplant,” Inge said.
Nov. 19 Inge received a kidney from his daughter Robin Coleman in Richmond after getting denied for a kidney transplant operation twice and waiting.
After waiting for a “go ahead” with the kidney transplant from the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center and performed several pre-procedure tests, they eventually called off the procedure. Then, he and Coleman went to University of Virginia Health Systems, but they denied him because Inge could not pass a stress test, Coleman said. At the time, he had heart problems.
However, if the wait had been any longer Inge would not have qualified for a transplant at all because, he said they are changing the age cut-off to 60-year-olds instead of 70, for a kidney transplant, unless it’s from a donor.
Getting the transplant was not only a surprise for Inge but also Coleman and her brother Mark Inge, who lives in Baltimore, Md. and came down for the surgery to support his family members.
“I still can’t believe it happened,” Mark Inge said.
He compared his mixed emotions about the whole experience to riding in a raft down the river and a waterfall is approaching, but it’s not thought about until the raft rider is actually going down the waterfall.
“You kind of put it out of your mind until you get to the waterfall,” he said.
After being on dialysis since 2005 after being diagnosed with kidney disease, Inge lost a lot of weight and roughly a year ago, Coleman said, she remembered her dad calling her to say that VCU Medical Center wanted to try again. He was able to pass the stress test because of the weight loss and his heart had gotten better, she said.
“I was shocked until the day of the transplant,” she said.
The support and love from his family, friends and the community at Winn’s Baptist Church helped Inge along the way, during and after the transplant.
Coleman said her brother hardly left her’s or their father’s side the whole time and was a huge help to both of them.
Another close friend, Andy Dietz, who Inge said was diagnosed with cancer, helped him out by driving him to appointments and tests.
Inge’s supportive church family donated money to both he and his daughter, covering two month’s rent and giving them both some cash to buy Christmas presents.
“They stepped over their boundaries as far as I’m concerned,” Inge said.
A few McDonald’s locations also pitched in by having donation cups at their registers. Inge said they received about $1,000.
Most of that money went toward helping Coleman pay bills and another necessities while she recovers. Coleman said her recovery is about six weeks and although the surgery was in November, she still is working to get her strength back. The community is making is that easier.
“I’ve never felt as loved before from the people of Ashland and surrounding areas as I did before the transplant,” Inge said.
Although hope has been restored for Inge and he is thankful for his daughter’s kidney, would he do it all over?
Inge said he saw how much pain his daughter endured after the procedure was complete and he did not realize how bad it would be.
“If I had to do it again I wouldn’t,” Inge said.