MARION – Father’s Day has a whole new reason to celebrate for a Marion family. Jorge and Jourdyn Berry share more than genes and personality traits.
Now this father and his daughter share an organ.
At Christmas 2018, the Berry family were on vacation at Disney World when their father, Jorge, noticed something was wrong.
He was told he had stage 2 kidney failure and needed to start dialysis immediately. For the next two years, Jorge’s life was turned upside down.
“I entered at eight in the evening on Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday and I was released at four in the morning”, remembers Jorge Berry. “And I’m a teacher and so I went to school and I went to my classes. and I would be dead tired.
Jorge was put on the transplant list at the end of 2020, when his condition worsened and he moved to stage 4. He had no idea his baby girl would save his life.
Her daughter, Jourdyn, who was 25 at the time and living in New York City for work was already preparing to donate her kidney to her father.
“It wasn’t even a decision and if it was, it was the easiest I have ever made,” said Jourdyn Berry. “And I’m not even sure, I didn’t even ask you, I just said I did.”
Her choice to help her father was a life-changing gift.
“When I realized she was going to do it, I was just worried about her,” Jorge Berry said in tears. “Sorry … because this is very special.” And like she said, she gets a free pass to all Father’s Day in the future.
On May 24, Jourdyn and Jorge underwent surgery at Ascension St. Vincent in Indianapolis. Jourdyn’s kidney was successfully transplanted to his father Jorge.
“The next day I was a new person,” Jorge explained. “It was night and day how I felt, how relieved I was, how much energy I had. Looking back, the last 10 to 15 years you hadn’t realized how sick you were. I feel so much better now, so much.
One month before the operation, Jourdyn is back in New York for work. Jorge is ready to resume his teaching duties at Marion Community Schools where he teaches STEM and a “common sense” course at 5e and 6e graders. He is also eager to return to coaching soccer, which he has been doing for 40 years.
Jourdyn’s decision to step in and be a donor for her father will also have an impact on other families. The list of kidney transplants is overloaded.
According to the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network, more than 98,000 people are registered and awaiting kidney transplants in the United States.
In Indiana, 869 people are on the waiting list. The waiting time can range from three to five years.
Dr Alex Cantafio, transplant surgeon at Ascension St. Vincent in Indianapolis, said the wait time can be three to five years to get a kidney donor and kidney donations have declined due to the pandemic.
“With this organ shortage, a living donor is not only helping the recipient and his or her near potential,” said Dr Cantafio. “But that takes someone off that list, so that the deceased donor’s organ that could have been sent to Jorge is now available to someone else.” So that’s a couple of different things not just for Jorge but for the list as a whole. “
Kidney donors who do not match a relative on the waiting list can still donate to a stranger. In return, their loved one can receive a voucher to move up the list when a match is found.
It is always necessary to become a living donor. Ascension St. Vincent and IU Health University Hospital, based in Indianapolis, both have transplant centers.