Jamestown man doing well after transplantCricket Bear’s kidney is slightly used, but it’s been working just fine since it was put in on Feb. 7. Bear, who lives in Jamestown, got the kidney from his cousin, Jennifer Burgess of Fargo, after his own kidneys were damaged by diabetes.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Cricket Bear’s kidney is slightly used, but it’s been working just fine since it was put in on Feb. 7.
Bear, who lives in Jamestown, got the kidney from his cousin, Jennifer Burgess of Fargo, after his own kidneys were damaged by diabetes.
“Diabetes affects all your organs,” Bear said. “Some people, it’ll give them heart disease, or other people, it’ll affect their eyes really bad. It just affects everything and everybody in a different way, who has it.”
In Bear’s case, diabetes affected the blood vessels in his kidneys, and sent them into acute renal failure.
About three years ago, Bear was told he would have to find a new kidney. He started talking to his friends and his family about getting tested to see if they were compatible.
“Out of, like, 22 people that wanted to help, most of them knew that they couldn’t, just because their blood type was wrong,” Bear recalled.
Based on compatibility alone, the list was narrowed down to two people. Burgess was chosen because she had better health insurance.
“They’re really, really particular about the donor … they take so many steps to make sure the donor’s going to be in good health afterwards,” Bear said.
Waiting for the transplant was extremely stressful, and Bear became sicker and sicker as his kidneys stopped working. His flu-like symptoms meant he was tired all the time, and he spent about four hours a day vomiting. His diet was extremely restricted, and because his kidneys weren’t functioning properly, he started retaining water and his legs swelled up.
Though Bear was fortunate enough to have a kidney donor, he was still put on a waiting list for a kidney just in case something happened to donor. If he’d had to wait for the actual list, it might have taken six to eight years to receive a new kidney.
Bear’s 14-year-old daughter, Kelsey, was worried about her father, but didn’t show it much, Bear said.
“She’s a trooper,” he added.
The road to recovery
Burgess has been recovering well from the surgery, Bear reported. She’s been told to drink more water to keep her system flushed out.
Bear, too, has had a successful recovery thus far, and the last two weeks have been a marked improvement.
“It changes your life. It’s like a miracle,” Bear said.
As a diabetic, his diet had been good before the surgery, so that didn’t change. However, he will have to drink three full liters of water a day and take five anti-rejection pills a day for the rest of his life.
“I’ve been feeling really good. I don’t throw up at all anymore, I’m not sick, I don’t want to sleep all the time and I’m just getting back to the old me again, you know,” Bear said.
His friends and family have been helping him along the way, bringing him to Fargo and back for treatment. Liechty Homes, where Bear works, has been good about giving him time off to heal.
“I think the people involved know it, but I’m just so grateful for everybody, friends and family and work and everybody in my life has been so awesome about this,” Bear said. “I just couldn’t ask for better people to be around me.”
Now his friends and family are working on another way to help him — a spaghetti supper and silent auction from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Friday at the James River Senior and Community Center. A freewill offering will be taken.
“You’ve got to take time off of work, and, well, transplants aren’t cheap, so we figured maybe he could use a little bit of help,” said Bear’s aunt, Denice Bear of Glenfield.
The meal will include spaghetti, garlic toast, beverages and dessert bars.
Silent auction items will include a hotel room, gift certificates, wall hangings, an Easter basket and etched mirrors, Denice said.
Supplemental matching funds will be provided Thrivent of Stutsman County.
Anyone who wants to donate can mail checks payable to the Cricket Bear Fund to Denice Bear, 153 87th Ave. NE, Glenfield, ND 58443.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at