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Son’s kidney is perfect match for sick father

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Thirty-seven million American adults have chronic kidney disease and are at an increased risk of requiring an organ.

It’s a common scenario here in Laredo, but it’s one that doesn’t always have positive results.

Fortunately for one father and son, it was a perfect match.

There about 160 patients here in Laredo currently on the wait list for an organ transplant.

As Hispanics, we are in a high risk group with diabetes, hypertension, and inherited conditions.

“When I was like at a very young age, he told us that he had this problem with his kidneys- that really stuck with me since I was little and I was worried about him. I would worry about losing him or something bad would happen... at a very young I found out.”

Gerardo Rios Jr. is still at a young age, he’s only 21. Regardless, he made a very bold decision this past April that may have saved his father’s life. He offered him his kidney.

“They told me you can do it and I was like, I have to do it and thank god I was of age. I figured out you have to be 21 and I had just reached 21. So it was like a sign. Go for it. I didn’t think twice I have to save my dad. I don’t want to lose him.”

His father, Gerardo Rios Sr. had a kidney functioning at 15% which is a stage five, meaning he either needed dialysis or a transplant.

“When we talk about kidney disease, those are really our two options,” said Doctor Grace McNutt, nephrologist. “Either dialysis, which I think a lot of people in our community are familiar with or transplantation. Transplantation is where where we receive a kidney from a diseased donor or a living donor someone who volunteers to give you their kidney. You’re able to avoid dialysis or come of it if you’re already on it and then for the rest of your life your able to hopefully stay off it and just take some anti-rejection medications.”

That’s exactly what happened in the Rios case.

“Like, I know he’s old. So, I didn’t want to lose him and I want to spend the time with him that I have, spend quality time and make him proud.... It doesn’t have to be your family member, but in this case it was.”

Dr. McNutt emphasizes the need for donors in south Texas remains prevalent.

“So far as national data goes, about 90,000 people are on the list for a deceased donor. Here in Laredo, we have about 160 people waiting for a kidney. Most of them unfortunately are on the wait list and the wait list can last three to eight years. In south Texas, it can last upwards of 8 years. So, it’s quite a bit of time they have to be on this list. Living arrangements are pretty wonderful because they can arrange that pretty quickly.”

While the physical transition was difficult for the son who offered his organ, the emotional gratification remains rewarding and his smile remains in place.

“It was painful, but we got through it. I’m already doing great. No regrets.”

Over the past two years, 65 patients have received kidney donations.

Laredo Medical Center arranged for the transplant with the procedure taking place at the University Health Transplant Institute in San Antonio.

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