Shelbyville Daily Union

September 24, 2013

Beecher City man walks 90 miles for organ donor awareness

John Carswell For the Daily Union
Shelbyville Daily Union

---- — On Saturday organ transplant recipient Don Stuckey made a stop in Shelbyville as part of his commitment to walk 90 miles from Effingham to Springfield highlighting transplant/organ donor awareness.

Stuckey, a resident of Beecher City can speak from experience. He became concerned with excessive loss of sleep and feeling restless and jittery. A visit to the doctor for some sleeping pills led to additional tests which showed him to be near complete renal failure. Before Don had time to take it all in, he was hooked up to a dialysis machine three times a week, three-and-a-half hours each visit. After a year he was placed on the transplant waiting list.

Like most people on an organ waiting list, Stuckey figured he was in for the long haul. Finding an organ match can take several years. But while Stuckey was in for one of his dialysis visits, he received a call that a match had possibly been found. A call an hour later confirmed that the match was positive and Stuckey was unhooked from the dialysis machine and on his way to surgery. “I was very lucky,” he said. “Most people are on the waiting list for 3-5 years. I got mine after two years.”

Stuckey got the call on Friday, August 2, went in for tests, and was soon under the knife for six hours. The procedure lasted through the night and was over early Saturday morning. After a brief recovery period, Stuckey showed remarkable progress, able to leave the hospital by Wednesday afternoon and earning the unofficial title, “Rock Star of Transplant Patients” by nurses and staff.

But even before Don received his kidney, he had planned to participate in the Memorial Transplant Services 5K Run/Walk in Springfield. Last year’s event earned $9,000 toward the Transplant Patient Assistance Fund. In May, Stuckey decided to walk 90 miles from Effingham to Springfield to highlight organ donor awareness and raise additional funds. He also set up a website, with progress updates and additional information. “They raised $9,000 last year and I was hoping to raise another $5,000 to go with it this year,” Stuckey said. “I would love to present a big check to the families to help with expenses.”

After arriving in Shelbyville via Cowden, Stuckey and his mother, Fay Stuckey, and sister, Linda Hollinshead, set up an information/donation table outside the Shelbyville Wal-Mart on Saturday afternoon. “We have been averaging around 10 miles a day so far. One day was 14, then 7 and today 10—about 10 miles a day,” said Linda. By Thursday they plan to have covered 80 of the 90 miles. Arrival is slated for Saturday, Sept. 28 at Washington Park in Springfield to coincide with the 5K run.

Along the way and at stopping points, Stuckey and his companions are selling wrist bands, drink huggies, accepting donations and signing up organ donors.

According to Memorial Medical Center Transplant Services, the Transplant Patient Assistance Fund benefits their patients with help for transportation expenses involved with doctor visits; lodging needs for them and their family members during pre-transplant workup, the period immediately following transplant surgery and during periods of treatment for rejection; prescription Medication costs and/or co-pays; and funding for other emergent transplant-related issues.”

You can find out more about the Memorial Transplant 5k Run/Walk and get online registration forms at Memorial’s Transplant Services 5k Run/Walk. Donations can also be made payable to: Memorial Transplant Services, PO Box 98, Altamont, IL 62411 (Receipts available upon request).