For Belmont Shore resident Curtis Kasier, one thing has become clear as he searches for a kidney—people are inherently good.
Diagnosed with a rare kidney disease at age 13, the search for a donor became desperate this year when Kasier, a 44-year-old father of two, slipped into stage 5 kidney failure. He appealed to the public for help on his website and the feedback, he said, has been tremendous.
Kasier said he was especially touched when many strangers, including a woman who lost her mother to a similar disease and a man from his gym, offered to undergo testing to see if they could be a donor.
“It’s been mind-blowing,” Kaiser said. “It’s made me look at strangers differently. When I walk down the street, I smile at strangers more. I just feel more optimistic about humanity.”
For most of his life, Kaiser has suffered from IgA nephropathy, a disease that damages the kidney’s filters.
Kasier has always known that he would eventually need a kidney transplant, but he wasn’t concerned about finding a donor because his brother Loren had long committed to donating one of his kidneys.
But when it came time for a transplant this year, doctors in a final round of testing in July discovered that Loren had a previously unknown medical condition.
Kasier’s wife Kristie, a teacher at Lowell Elementary School, was disqualified in October due to kidney stones, and a handful friends and other family members were also ruled out due to health concerns.
The need became urgent as Kaiser’s kidneys dropped to a 12 percent function level. Normal kidneys function at 60 percent and above.
Unless he finds a donor soon, he’ll have to start dialysis treatments in February.
Kaiser said he’s hoping not to have to go through dialysis because research shows that an eventual kidney transplant is more successful the less time a person spends on dialysis.
Kaiser, an estate planning lawyer, got extra help this summer when his law firm, the Kaiser Law Group, reached out to the webmasters at Omnibeat to build a website to tell his story. The company offered to do it pro bono.
The website generated lots of feedback, and Kaiser said he’s now feeling more hopeful. Currently, three people are in the testing process at UCLA Medical Center and five others, including friends and strangers, are waiting, he said.
Kaiser said he hopes to hear good news for Christmas, but for now the search continues.
To keep healthy, he exercises daily and follows and extremely restrictive diet. When he finds a donor, Kaiser said he plans to repurpose the website to help others with less resources learn how to navigate the medical system.
“I’m fortunate to have so many resources and it’s still super confusing and complicated,” he said. “You really have to learn how to navigate the system and advocate for yourself.”
Kidney transplants aren’t permanent and Kaiser said he will likely need another transplant in 20 years, but by that time, technology will be better, he said.
“I figure in 20 years they’ll be able to print me one,” he said.
For more information visit www.curtiscan.com
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