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Worlds Helped

Stories of those who are helping and being helped.

Media Saves Lives 1 Person at a Time!

I want to thank Save 1 Person for helping to facilitate the kidney transplant that ultimately saved my life. Thanks to the organization's media network, I am again a healthy husband, employer, son, brother, friend and, most important, father of four great kids, with another on the way. I am just one small example of how the media can make a difference.
 
In 2004, I was a 36-year-old father of three children under 5, dependent on dialysis for life support. But dialysis was racking my body. My blood pressure skyrocketed as high as 280/180. Doctors were afraid I'd suffer a stroke or worse. I was already suffering severe migraines which were debilitating for up to 12 hours after dialysis was over. Due to a prior transplant (after a 7 year wait) and blood transfusions, I was a difficult person to "match," as I'd built up antibodies to the most common antigens found in most of the population.

 
Thanks to my wife getting the word out to friends and family, nearly 100 people were tested for me. That's the power of the internet. Friends passed her appeal onto friends. All this forwarding landed her email in the inbox of Save 1 Person, an organization that highlights one person in the media weekly who needs a medical miracle. Thank God, Lauren found it worthy enough to highlight my situation a Save 1 Person news break and distribute it to her media contacts across the globe. Our miracle was in motion when Alice Stockton Rossini of 1010 WINS picked up the Save 1 Person news break and ran a story on me. As a result, hundreds of people called my hospital to inquire about getting tested. We were looking for a needle in a haystack and 1010 WINS cast the wide net we needed. Among those who called was a lovely woman from the Bronx named Regina Grebb.
 
Many people hear a heart-wrenching story and they want to help. They even take the first step, but fear understandably takes over. Relatives dissuade their good intentions. A spouse puts his foot down. Second thoughts settle in. Regina was tenacious every step of the way, as we later learned (at the time, everything was kept from us. This is done so the potential recipient can't make contact with the potential donor and possibly attempt to coerce, bribe or otherwise influence the decision). Ultimately, Regina was the needle in the haystack and a date was set. We both came through the surgery with flying colors. My wife met her parents in the waiting room and they cried and prayed together.  The afternoon after the surgery, Regina and I were allowed to meet. It remains one of the most pivotal and spiritual moments of my life. It's like meeting your own guardian angel. When I asked her why she did it, she said “I felt it was something I was meant to do and if it could save a life, why not?” But Regina didn't stop there. She went on to pursue her dream of motherhood, despite being single. She had a successful pregnancy with one kidney and is now the mother of a beautiful 14-month-old girl.

Not to be outdone, I am happy to report my wife and I had our fourth child last December, and we are now pregnant with our fifth :-)  I am so grateful to God for the children he has given both Regina and me. Without Regina, I might not be alive, much less a father of four. And Regina says donating her kidney gave her the confidence to become a mommy without a mate. We remain very close to her and to her parents and look forward to many more celebrations together.

It has been over 4 years since I received Regina's kidney. And everyday I ponder over how a stranger could give a gift like this to a stranger. Could I have done the same thing?  Could you? With gratitude to Save 1 Person and 1010 WINS for highlighting a Save 1 Person news break.
Stuart Zimmer

Congrats

Congrats.

Hanover Girl Helping Ill Carpentersville Boy

Mariah Reeves and her mom, Sandy, of Hanover Park, started fundraising efforts to help the family of a sick boy from Carpentersville. The Reeves family celebrates Christmas and Hanukkah, and Mariah is using her upcoming bat mitzvah to make Christmas cheerier for the boy’s family.

Mariah Reeves comes from a working-class family in Hanover Park and knows what it is to scrimp and save. But Mariah’s parents also brought up the 12-year-old to give back to others, especially this time of year. So Mariah is drawing on her Jewish faith to help the family of a boy she’s never met to have a merrier Christmas.

Nathan Saavedra is a 3-year-old Carpentersville boy who already has had a kidney transplant and needs another.

Helping the Saavedras

• If you’d like to donate cash or a gift card to the Saavedra family for Mariah Reeves’ project, you can drop it off at one of two locations. The first is Beth Tikvah Congregation, 300 Hillcrest Blvd., Hoffman Estates. The second is Lincoln Prairie School, 500 Hillcrest Blvd., Hoffman Estates. The collection runs through Dec. 16. For details, call Sandy Reeves at (630) 736-6086.

• If you’d like to donate a kidney to Nathan Saavedra, you must be between 18 and 55 years old with Type B or O blood and have no history of heart disease or blood pressure issues. To start the process to determine whether you’re a match, see your doctor to obtain documentation of your blood type and fax those documents to Children’s Memorial Hospital at (773) 327-3937.

• If you want to help the Saavedra family directly, there is a fund in Nathan Saavedra’s name at Harris Bank. For more information, you can contact his mother through his Facebook page, “Nathan Saavedra’s Fight” or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Besides Nathan’s malady — he suffers from prune belly syndrome — the Saavedra family of Carpentersville has fallen on hard times.

Nathan’s father, Juan, had been working a series of temporary jobs after he lost his job two years ago, but that work dried up six months ago. Nathan’s mother, Tina, left her job to look after the boy full time and shuttle him to his doctor’s appointments. The Saavedras have two other children — Alexis, 8, and Jeremiah, 6. The family of five lives on $600 a month.

“I’m not happy Christmas is coming because financially we’re a mess and all that,” Tina said. “My kids don’t understand. I tell them I don’t have money and they say, ‘Santa has money.’ I told them not to expect a lot of presents.”

Mariah has taken it upon herself to publicize Nathan’s kidney campaign to her more than 500 Facebook friends, and started a Christmas gift card campaign at her school, Lincoln Prairie, and her temple, Congregration Beth Tikvah, both in Hoffman Estates. Her family recognizes both Hanukkah and Christmas — her mom is Jewish and dad Christian.

Mariah plans to donate a portion of the cash gifts from her bat mitzvah to the Saavedras. The gift card campaign ends Friday.

As of Thursday, she’d raised a combined $210 in gift cards and cash.

“I feel really good about it because we’re donating all the money that people are sending,” Mariah said, adding that she wants to make sure the Saavedras have a wonderful holiday season. “It’s hard for them to have hope.”

The seventh-grader is three months away from her bat mitzvah, a coming of age ceremony that symbolizes young adulthood in the Jewish faith — in Hebrew, “bat” means girl and “mitzvah” means good deeds.

Before children go through the ceremony, they must complete 13 service projects in 10 categories. Mariah’s project for the Saavedras falls under the “loving acts of kindness” category. The project is called a “tzedakah,” which in Hebrew means contributing money to a charity.

Facebook unites them

How the Saavedras got on the Reeveses’ family radar is another story entirely.

Four years ago, Mariah’s mother, Sandy Reeves, discovered she had a cousin named Sara Saavedra and reconnected with her on Facebook. Earlier this year, Reeves was looking for more Saavedra relatives on the social media network when she came across Nathan Saavedra’s page.

His family is not related to the Reeves family and they’ve never met in person.

Nathan’s prune belly syndrome is a birth defect that causes an underdeveloped stomach and leads to a host of health issues, especially with the urinary tract and kidneys. Nathan eats his meals through a feeding tube, is unable to walk and is on dialysis 10 hours a day because of the disease.

After reading about Nathan’s need for a kidney, Carpentersville resident Chris Doing — another person who’d not known Nathan beforehand — stepped forward in October 2010 to donate a kidney to the little boy. But in March, doctors had to remove the kidney because it folded over on itself and there was no blood flowing to it. His mother says he has a 2 percent chance of finding a compatible donor.

“I just felt bad just like everybody else and that guy who donated the kidney, that was a wonderful thing to do,” Sandy Reeves said. “I mean, this is a man who doesn’t even know them. So I’m always curious. That’s just how we are; we’re very simple.”

Reeves started communicating with Nathan’s mom. Reeves works for Tastefully Simple and organized a fundraiser for the family that brought in $400. That’s where the help started from the Reeveses.

“We’re just hoping to brighten up their holidays a little bit,” said Mariah’s father, Craig.

And now, Mariah has extended the family partnership by using her bat mitzvah preparations for the Saavedras’ benefit. Sandy Reeves recently told Tina Saavedra about her daughter’s project.

“I pretty much was in tears, telling her ‘Thank you,’ because she told me not to worry about Christmas,” Saavedra said.

Successful Kidney Transplant

DONOR FOUND

Thank you to all of you who replied to the call for help to save a life.

After a long battle to find a kidney donor to save the life of Stuart Zimmer, a donor was found from the more than 120 people tested. As a result, Stuart had a successful kidney transplant on April 28, 2005!

You are helping

Subject: Thank you!

I wanted to let you know that you included some information on your site a while back for a Mr. Schouten.

He lives in New Jersey and has been in renal failure for 2 years. You included it as one of those save a life save the world segments. I contacted Mr. Schouten because I matched some initial criteria for donating a Kidney. We have been through the testing and found that I am a match for him.

Our surgery is scheduled for February 21. I will be flying to New Jersey and Mr. Schouten and I will undergo the transplant. Since you originally put us in contact I wanted you to know that your information really does work.

You are helping to make a difference in people's lives.

Please pray for the surgery and our recovery but more so that this transplant will work and that Mr. Schouten will get his life back.

Thank you for your help Mr. Barker. May you be blessed for what you do.

Thank you,
Tami