Gulf Coast APA member Jennifer Wheeler joined the APA in 2005. She’s an active Team Captain in both 8-Ball and 9-Ball at the American Legion, Post 99, in Foley, Ala. She’s a skill level 5 in both 8-Ball and 9-Ball. Her love is not just for billiards, but for her family as well. Jennifer returned the gift of life to her father by donating a working kidney.
In 2001, Wheeler’s father, Danny Stewart, was diagnosed with N stage Renal Failure. He was on a “month to month” basis with labs to determine when his levels were extreme enough to start dialysis. On April 15, 2012, the kidneys finally shut down and fluid overtook his lungs and his heart causing him to go into respiratory failure and have a heart attack. At that point, dialysis was started. Jennifer’s father had dialysis 3 times a week from then on. He was restricted with a heart healthy diet, a diabetic diet and a renal diet. He could only have 32-48 ounces of liquids a day. He was down to 120 lbs. He was weak and frail. In March of 2013, he was added to the National Kidney Donor List.
Jennifer traveled with her sister to Birmingham, Ala., to go through a full day of tests and classes. One CAT scan of their kidneys, one chest x-ray, urine analysis, approximately 20 vials of blood taken, and a 3 hour class later, they were finished and on their way home. Jennifer writes, “We both had absolutely no idea which one of us would match, or if either would match, but one thing we had NO doubts of was that if we were a match, we were going to help our dad.”
On June 10, 2013, Jennifer received a phone call from the case worker in the kidney transplant center in Birmingham. On the call, she told her she was the match! Wheeler writes, “See this man, my daddy, gave me life, and now I could help him get back his quality of life. Wow, what a feeling. I immediately called daddy and screamed it through the phone. He was in a doctor’s office and couldn’t hold in his emotions either. He immediately told the nurse at the desk and tears of joy fell.”
The transplant was scheduled for July 22, 2013 at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB). After both operations, doctors could see Jennifer’s kidney working as soon as they attached it. Normally, it takes 12-48 hours for creatinine levels to get back to normal in a recipient, but when they tested Danny 4 hours after surgery his level had dropped from 5.9 to 1.3.
Jennifer urges, “all of you to be an organ donor, or if you know someone who is needing a kidney, try to be a Living Donor. It is one of the most intense blessings you have ever felt. To my daddy, Danny Stewart, I was honored to be able to give you this amazing gift. I love you Daddy!”
Thank you for being such an inspiration, Jennifer – we’re happy to have you in the League!