Stranger playing angel to get Mike his kidney

Hide caption Jasmyn Casiano, of Clinton, will be donating a kidney to make sure Mike Gomez, of Clinton, can get one. [Item photo/JAN GOTTESMAN] Managing Editor

CLINTON – Worrying and waiting. That has been the life for Michael Gomez, of Clinton, and his family since 2016.

But that may be coming to an end … with the help of an “angel” they didn’t know.

Mike was diagnosed in kidney failure on Sept. 11, 2016, when he went to Clinton emergency room because he couldn’t see well. After blood work, doctors told him he was in kidney failure from chronic high blood pressure that went untreated.

The family then began what his wife, Tammy Diaz Gomez, calls their “horrible journey.” The family was told he could only do home dialysis for – maybe – another year before it would not be effective and he would to go back to hemo dialysis. Last time he was on hemo dialysis, he lost 50 pounds and was tired all the time.

Tammy tried to donate a kidney, but was told, after 18 months of testing, that she would not be considered to be a donor. The family had to go outside to find someone to help.

Kidneys are one of the organs that can be taken from a live donor since people can live with just one kidney. The family set up #akidneyformikegomez page on Facebook. Over the year of posting updates, including a transplant donor opportunity that fell through, the family had a holiday miracle.

Their angel came in the form of Jasmyn Casiano, 22, of Clinton.

Jasmyn didn’t know the Gomez family when her mother called her one day in November, asking her what her blood type was. Jasmyn was confused, until her mother, who knew the Gomez family, told her about Mike and his need for a kidney.

Jasmyn told her mother to find out her blood type and she was anxious to help. Even though Jasmyn was not a blood type match, she moved forward with the kidney pair donation program.

“I wanted to help him, to save someone’s life,” Jasmyn said. After weeks of medical tests, she said it was all worth it. Now, as soon as the physicians find a match for Mike, Jasmyn will give her kidney to another person in need.

“It is pretty amazing someone would do this for a total stranger,” Mike said this week. The last two and a half years have been difficult. “There have been a lot of ups and downs. It has been frustrating.”

Jasmyn said it was definitely worth it.

“There are a lot of tests, physicals and waiting,” she said. “It has been a good experience. It was not painful. It has been an easy process.”

Mike had advice for others in his position.

“Don’t give up. I know it’s hard going through kidney failure,” Mike said. “Keep motivated. Keep your mind off the bad things.”

The Gomez family’s struggle has been very public for a year. Jasmyn’s part in saving Mike has made her part of all the social media.

“It has been challenging being so public,” Mike said. “We found a lot of people said they were willing to donate and try.”

Jasmyn said she has had a lot of positive feedback from the publicity.

“A lot of people ask about being donors or say how awesome it is,” she said. “I don’t mind.”

For Jasmyn, the surgery means about six to 12 weeks of recovery.

“That doesn’t bother me,” she said. “It will be a good outcome.”

For Mike, it will mean a new lease on life.

“Don’t give up,” Mike said to other patients. “Keep your head up. Some day it will happen, eventually.”

Tammy encouraged others to consider a living donation of a spare part, like a kidney.

“I know how hard it is, but you are saving someone,” Tammy said. “Don’t forget someone is fighting to stay alive. Everyone who has donated said they would do it again.”

Living Kidney Donation Facts

Information from the National Kidney Foundation and Johns Hopkins Medicine:

• When the kidney is removed, the single normal kidney will increase in size to compensate for the loss of the donated kidney.

• Pregnancy after donation is possible, but it usually is not recommended for at least six months after the surgery.

• People can live normal lives with only one kidney.

• Should a donor need a kidney later, there is a priority system in place so that donors receive extra points for deceased donor kidney transplant when they are on the waiting list.

• Living donation does not change life expectancy, and does not appear to increase the risk of kidney failure.

• The recipients’ insurance pays for all testing and the surgery. Approximately hospital stay is four to six days.

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