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Local Man Visits the Dentist and Finds a New Kidney

Retired business man Jeff Eckrich would often pass the time at the dentist's office talking about his struggle with diabetes.

At 67, Eckrich visited the same dentist, Clemence Dental Group in Hales Corners, for a number of years.

He spoke frequently with Judy the receptionist.

She knew how he needed a new kidney and that he had suffered from renal failure due to complications of diabetes.

Judy just felt compelled to help.

First, her husband offered to be a living donor for Jeff, who he also knew.

But after testing, it was determined he wasn’t compatible.

Judy then decided she would do all she could to help and herself applied as a living donor.

Living kidney donations often offer better outcomes to patients who are on waiting lists for new organs, which nationally, is more than 100,000.

Judy learned she was a candidate, and on Nov 19, 2015, Jeff received one of Judy’s kidneys.

Their families have been bonded by the experience, and they’ve become best of friends, enjoying meals at each other’s home each week.

\"I tried words, flowers, but I came to conclusion the best way to say thank you was to take the best care of this kidney that I could,\" Jeff told the CBS 58 News at 4.

Jeff's surgeon, Dr. Ajay Sahajpal  of  Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center says 120,000 people in this country waiting for organs.

\"The process is not very painful,\" said Dr. Sahajapal. \"We do it robotically. The donor has less pain and goes home within 48 hours of surgery. The harder part is when patients die on the waiting list. That's the biggest challenge.\"

Jeff says there are three key things to having a successful transplant.

\"Dr Sahajapal and his team at St Luke's. You need a wife or a loved one who can take care of you for the following three months. And a donor. I gained a kidney, we both  gained a tremendous understanding of each. It is my belief there are angels walking among us.\" 

For more information on Aurora St. Luke's Transplant Center click here

For more information on organ donation click here

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