By Mark Taylor
DENVER (CBS4) – Six months ago, Steve Kostiuk’s kidneys were operating at 6 percent and his future was uncertain. Now it’s crystal clear.
Kostiuk has lupus, and his kidneys began to fail late last year. He needed a kidney. His blood type ruled out any immediate family, so he started a campaign to find a living donor. CBS4 documented his search in a story in November.
After our story aired, he found his living donor.
“I was crying when they told me that I had a donor,” Kostiuk said.
Months of campaigning with advertisements on his car and on social media proved successful for Kostiuk, who has a wife and four young children.
His surprise donor is man from Kostiuk’s past — 20 years in the past to be exact.
“He is giving me an incredible gift of life and he’s giving me a second chance,” Kostiuk said.
His donor is Chad Logan, who two decades ago played with Kostiuk on a football team at Jefferson High School in Edgewater.
The two hadn’t seen each other since then.
“Everything has lined up quite nicely,” Logan said.
Logan grew up in Colorado but for the past 20 years has lived in Utah where he also has a wife and four young children. He recently connected with Kostiuk on social media and learned of his situation.
“I remember thinking at that very moment ‘I can fix this,'” Logan said.
Logan called the living donation hotline and was a match.
Doctors at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver will do the transplant surgery on May 16. It will take about four hours and then there’s three weeks of recovery time. After which Kostiuk’s life expectancy will double.
Most organ transplants come from deceased donors, so Logan’s gift is one that comes with an added bonus.
“In most cases, transplants that come from a living donor last a lot longer,” Dr. Brad Marder of Presbyterian/St. Luke’s said.
As for Logan, with a healthy lifestyle the risks are minimal.
“A person should be able to live their whole life with one kidney just as healthy if they had two kidneys,” Marder said.
For Logan, the reward of keeping a father with his children looms large.
“It’s the right thing to do for the right reasons, and that trumps any apprehension or fear or anything else,” Logan said.
As for Kostiuk and his wife Jackie, the donation is one they say can never be repaid, but will be treasured and never forgotten.
“We realize how big of a sacrifice it is,” Jackie Kostiuk said. “You can’t repay them, you just have to appreciate them and love them.”
Kostiuk and Logan met for the first time since high school at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s during a pre-op surgery on May 11. There, Logan explained to Kostiuk one of the biggest reasons he’s donating his kidney.
“He gave me four words that are just going to stay with me forever. He said ‘Little girls need dads.’ … That’s going to stick with me,” Kostiuk said.
There are about 2,600 people in Colorado waiting for a lifesaving organ. To learn more about living donation visit americantransplantfoundation.org.