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‘Staying positive:’ Batavia man searches for living kidney donor

todayFebruary 4, 2024 2

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BATAVIA, N.Y. (WROC) — For decades, Jim Urtel has dedicated his life to his passion — giving racehorses that others had given up on a second chance.

“I’ve raced horses all over the Northeast and Canada,” Urtel said. “That’s what I did since I was 12 years old.”

It was a day on the track in 2012 where Urtel said he was feeling a little off and decided to go get checked out. Reflecting on the moment — he learned his life would forever change.

“I went to the emergency room over here in Batavia,” Urtel said. “They did the test, and the girl came back and said, ‘Look, I don’t know how to tell you this Mr. Urtel, but you’re going to have to go to either Rochester or Buffalo. She said ‘We can’t treat you here, your kidneys are in complete failure. Your blood pressure…’ I think it was 232 over 116. She goes, ‘You should be in stroke form right now, it’s amazing you’re not.”

Eleven days later, Jim started dialysis treatment, which is something he continued for over eight years..

And during that eighth year, he was finally approved for the deceased kidney list, able to receive a transplant. He thought this would be the answer, but…

“It really wasn’t screened properly,” Urtel said. “There was 40 to 50 percent scar tissue. It can happen, like they do biopsies on the kidneys, so needle placement is kind of what they put it to, but when they put it in it didn’t turn on for about seven days. I really didn’t know if it was going to work. I mean, it was quite the process.”

Now, Jim says doctors tell him the answer is finding a living kidney donor who can help him. He’s working with an organization, Kidneys for Communities in his search. They are able to test multiple kidneys at a time something Jim says is huge.

“It’s helped,” he said. “There have been a few that have come forward and they are in the testing phase. I’m a little bit tougher to match kidney. The big thing they help with is, you don’t have to be a complete match to me, like there’s sharing programs.”

In the meantime, he’s now turned his passion to fitness and says working out has helped his mindset a lot.

“I stay as positive as I can do. I mean I feel good, you know,” Urtel said. “I just got my bloodwork from my regular doctor. My cholesterol and all the rest of my numbers are as good as you can possibly have — other than the kidney numbers.”

Urtel said he hopes by sharing his story, he can help inspire others in similar situations.

“That’s my goal. I want to try to help people,” Urtel said. “Even if this doesn’t work, if I don’t get a kidney, I’m bringing awareness to the group, and maybe other people that can get help and everything. I mean that’s really where, that’s really where we’re at. I gotta be the war horse now, you know. I need a little help to keep going but I am. And hopefully we get to the next level.”

​ BATAVIA, N.Y. (WROC) — For decades, Jim Urtel has dedicated his life to his passion — giving racehorses that others had given up on a second chance.

“I’ve raced horses all over the Northeast and Canada,” Urtel said. “That’s what I did since I was 12 years old.”

It was a day on the track in 2012 where Urtel said he was feeling a little off and decided to go get checked out. Reflecting on the moment — he learned his life would forever change.

“I went to the emergency room over here in Batavia,” Urtel said. “They did the test, and the girl came back and said, ‘Look, I don’t know how to tell you this Mr. Urtel, but you’re going to have to go to either Rochester or Buffalo. She said ‘We can’t treat you here, your kidneys are in complete failure. Your blood pressure…’ I think it was 232 over 116. She goes, ‘You should be in stroke form right now, it’s amazing you’re not.”

Eleven days later, Jim started dialysis treatment, which is something he continued for over eight years..

And during that eighth year, he was finally approved for the deceased kidney list, able to receive a transplant. He thought this would be the answer, but…

“It really wasn’t screened properly,” Urtel said. “There was 40 to 50 percent scar tissue. It can happen, like they do biopsies on the kidneys, so needle placement is kind of what they put it to, but when they put it in it didn’t turn on for about seven days. I really didn’t know if it was going to work. I mean, it was quite the process.”

Now, Jim says doctors tell him the answer is finding a living kidney donor who can help him. He’s working with an organization, Kidneys for Communities in his search. They are able to test multiple kidneys at a time something Jim says is huge.

“It’s helped,” he said. “There have been a few that have come forward and they are in the testing phase. I’m a little bit tougher to match kidney. The big thing they help with is, you don’t have to be a complete match to me, like there’s sharing programs.”

In the meantime, he’s now turned his passion to fitness and says working out has helped his mindset a lot.

“I stay as positive as I can do. I mean I feel good, you know,” Urtel said. “I just got my bloodwork from my regular doctor. My cholesterol and all the rest of my numbers are as good as you can possibly have — other than the kidney numbers.”

Urtel said he hopes by sharing his story, he can help inspire others in similar situations.

“That’s my goal. I want to try to help people,” Urtel said. “Even if this doesn’t work, if I don’t get a kidney, I’m bringing awareness to the group, and maybe other people that can get help and everything. I mean that’s really where, that’s really where we’re at. I gotta be the war horse now, you know. I need a little help to keep going but I am. And hopefully we get to the next level.” Read More NewsRochesterFirst  

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