Diabetes is the number one reason for kidney failure in this country. But that's not what destroyed a South Dakota man's kidney. As part of our National Kidney Month coverage, we have another success story on living donorship 15 years in the making.
For 25 years straight, Cliff Nock from rural Brandon never took a sick day. Then in 1989 the bottom fell out. He started retaining fluids and gaining weight.
Cliff says, "I travel a lot for business. I went to a meeting, came back and had a beer and some peanuts and I had so much fluid I could hardly get in the plane to come home because I couldn't bend my knees. I knew something was wrong so when I got home I went to the doctor."
That's when specialists at the Avera North Central Kidney Institute in Sioux Falls discovered a virus was attacking his kidney. A kidney disease commonly called nephritis and he needed a transplant. He refused all three of his grown kids offer to donate theirs (all were matches) because he didn't want to disrupt their lives and his wife was turned down to donate hers.
Joy Wolff is one of Cliff's children. She says, "I think the most important thing to me was not to see him debilitated on dialysis. As a nurse I knew what that meant and to him I knew that would be a death sentence."
After 3 1/2 years on peritoneal dialysis, Joy convinced her dad, with the support and commitment from the entire family, to take her kidney. That was in 1993.. Cliff was 53 and Joy was 27... and they were the first in South Dakota to have a living child donate a kidney to a parent.
Cliff says, "Oh I felt great. As soon as I woke up from the surgery I felt so much better and it's been like that ever since. "
For the matriarch of the family, it was tough to send both her husband and her daughter in to surgery at the same time, but she's happy with the results.
Joyce Nock says, "It was amazing to see the change in Cliff overnight."
Recently, Cliff's nephrologist, Dr. Edward Zawada, found the virus was back and starting to attack his new kidney.
Dr. Zawada says, "Medications are so powerful now. We got it under control so it was a miracle, so to speak, having an occurrence happen is uncommon and to get it under control right away was amazing."
We all have probably prayed for a miracle in our lifetime, Cliff Nock is one thanks to modern medicine.
By the way, Joy has full kidney function and went on to have another baby after her surgery. Cliff has since retired, loving life and playing as much golf as he can.
To find out more about donating a kidney contact the Avera McKennan Transplant Institute at 888.909.1112 or 605.322.7350.