Donald W. Hicks of North Augusta, S.C., celebrated the 20-year anniversary of a successful kidney transplant with his sister and donor, Kathy Jowers of Hohenwald, Tenn., and 42 other family members and extended family at Mistletoe State Park on July 19.
Mr. Hicks' kidney problem was discovered by accident. In 1987, Dr. David Thomas, a pulmonologist, treated Mr. Hicks for asthmatic laronchitis, at which time he noted Mr. Hicks' urine protein was very high. Dr. Thomas referred Mr. Hicks to Dr. Hy Sussman, a local nephrologist, who diagnosed Mr. Hicks with End Stage Renal Disease. His prognosis was grim.
Because kidney patients are not eligible for transplant unless on dialysis, Mr. Hicks began treatment in February 1989. During this time his siblings were tested for donor compatability. Kathy, Mr. Hicks' youngest sister, was identified as a six-point match. She was told that only an identical twin could have been a more perfect match.
Mrs. Jowers, who was then teaching school in Coushatta, La., agreed to donate one of her kidneys. Part of the impetus to do so was because she was saddened to see Mr. Hicks taking so many medications twice daily just to stay alive. Even so, she was plagued by her own personal fears, especially of being put to sleep. She had never been hospitalized before. Her pastor referred her to Psalm 91 which she prayed over diligently. With the support of her husband and the promise provided in these scriptures, Mrs. Jowers was able to overcome her fears.
The transplant was performed on July 19, 1989, by Drs. Humphreys and Wynn, members of MCG's transplant surgical team in Augusta.
Both patients progressed as anticipated and today they live happy, productive lives.
Mrs. Jowers continues to teach school. She and her husband, Jimmy, involve themselves in many church activities. They especially enjoy working with youth.
Mr. Hicks was unable to continue employment at Wackenhut due to physical restrictions, so he changed his profession. He entered Steven W. Brown School of Radiology at University Hospital in 1993. He was the only male student among 12 women. He was presented the Outstanding Student award in 1995. Mr. Hicks presently works as a radiology lead tech at University Hospital. His personal medical experiences evoke compassion for patients and their special needs. He is a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
Mr. Hicks' mother, Monnie Hicks and oldest sister, Dianne Hunt, live in Dearing.