Local man gets third chance at life - Philadelphia news

October 3, 2008 9:07:46 PM PDT
Sue and Bob Kelchner, of Media, Pennsylvania, met in junior high. "I was working at the donut shop in Ridley Township at the time and she'd come in and put her nose to the glass and watch me make donuts," Bob said.

They started dating in high school, got married and had three kids.

But while Bob was in his thirties, he got a bacterial infection and both his kidneys started to fail. When he needed a transplant, the love of his life gave him the gift of life, she donated one of her kidneys.

"I have to say it was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life," Sue said.

It gave Bob a chance to see his children grow up and have kids of their own. But more than fifteen years later, he got sick again. His wife's donated kidney was failing. This time, his kids wanted to help, but transplant doctor Ali Naji of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania said because he had his wife's kidney for so long, the chances one of them could donate a matchin kidney were slim.

But again Bob Kelchner beat the odds... all three kids matched.

"I was first pleased and then surprised," said Dr. Naji, adding, "Really I was very happy for them that this could happen."

But deciding who would their kidney donate wasn't as easy.

"My brother Bobby and I sat at his dining room table for maybe two hours arguing back and forth why we should be the one," Bob's daughter Laura explained.

Finally, it was decided upon by the toss of a coin. Laura, who's also a surgical technician called tails and won. She would soon see the operating room from a different perspective, a donor's perspective.

"I just feel like my dad has always been there for me and I should be there for him," she said about her decision.

After the operation, this was the message inside Bob's fortune cookie: "Happier days are definitely ahead for you, struggle has ended."

And now nearly five months later, it seems struggle has ended. Bob is healthy, enjoying his third chance at life, thanks again to his family.

"Come next August, we're treating the whole family, grandkids and all, to a cruise," he said. For more information on the "Gift of Life," visit:

Penn Health
Transplant Living
Kidney.org


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