In the early summer of 2009, Ken Diehl started feeling poorly. He had been diagnosed with hypertension and IgA nephropathy—a kidney disease—several years earlier, but had been leading a normal life. For some reason, though, the disease became aggressive.
“My kidneys were only functioning at about 7 or 8 percent,” Diehl says. “The doctors were amazed that I was even walking around.”
Dialysis was the next step, but what Diehl really needed was a new kidney. Eight people volunteered to donate a kidney for him right then and there—an experience he says was humbling.
“They only went to the trouble to test one person, though, and it was a dead-on, perfect match,” Diehl says. That person was his brother, Robert, who also attended Vanderbilt. Their love for Vanderbilt baseball had made the brothers closer the past few years, and the gift of a kidney was another step in that direction.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get away from thinking about it every day—after all, I have pills to remind me,” says Diehl. “But it has been a tremendous blessing to me.”
The Diehl brothers urge everyone to consider organ donation—a gift of life.
© 2014 Vanderbilt University | Photography: STEVE GREEN
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