The first time he found out his kidneys were failing, it was 2009.
A doctor had previously told Bobby Lucas in 2006, that he would probably need a new kidney some day when he was 60. After all, his mom suffered from chronic kidney disease, and both of his half-siblings did too.
But that year, in 2009, it became a reality for the Garner resident who was only 33 at the time. The doctor told him this time that his kidneys were failing and he would need to get on the transplant list then.
He had just lost his job of framing houses, due to the economic recession. So he didn’t have health insurance. Money was tight. He had two young boys. He said he didn’t feel too bad. So he put it off and spent time with his family.
“I didn’t want to deal with it,” Lucas said. “I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t see a difference. Or didn’t think I saw a difference.”
But four years later, he went to the doctor for the first time since 2009 after feeling sick. They drew blood and ran tests on him.
“The next day the doctor called and he said you need to get to WakeMed right now,” Lucas recalled. “He said your kidneys are really bad. He said they are probably going to put you on dialysis.”
Lucas had stage four renal failure and chronic kidney disease.
Three years later, at 40, he remains on dialysis in wait of a kidney donor. He goes to get dialysis administered three days a week for four hours each day, as the bad blood goes out of his body, while the good blood comes in. Lucas is hoping his wife Lorrie is a match. They have the same blood type and are waiting to see if the test results will indicate his wife his healthy enough to donate one of her kidneys.
Kidney transplants are steep in price. Lucas said the surgery is expected to cost somewhere between $300,000 to $500,000. While that will be covered, the medicine he has to take following the surgery will cost thousands of dollars for the rest of his life.
His church, Mt. Moriah Baptist, will host a fundraiser on Oct. 7 to raise money for the medicine post-surgery. The fundraiser is a barbecue plate lunch and dinner. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7:30 p.m., the church at 3000 E. Garner Road, a Raleigh address between Garner and Clayton, will serve half a chicken, boiled potatoes, green beans and a roll for $8.
People who can’t pick it up at the church can order to have it delivered. For more information, call the church at 919-772-1273.
Placed on hold
When Lucas first got on the transplant list and started taking dialysis, he said he started to feel better. People who knew he was sick would tell him he looked good. And he felt good too. So he stopped going to dialysis hoping he could save some money.
But that didn’t go over well with hospital officials. They penalized him for it, and placed him on hold on the donor list. He looked for someone in his immediate family who might give a kidney, but no one offered. His wife stepped up.
“You were just hoping that there would be someone to donate and it never happened,” Lorrie Lucas said. “So I prayed about it and I felt like God was telling me to go ahead and do it. You’re going to be OK. You can live on one kidney. You’re going to be fine.”
Donating a kidney also has its risks. There are ocassions where even though someone may be a match, their body could reject the kidney. That’s what the medications are for, to help prevent that. But it doesn’t always work.
Bobby Lucas said that is something he thinks about often.
“All the time,” he said. “I don’t like it. I don’t like taking anything from her when there is nothing wrong with her. And I’ve got two sons.”
Lucas said he has good days and bad days. The bad days are when he’s drained from dialysis. Or if he hasn’t gone, his heart starts to pound.
But he still tries to cherish the good days, he said.
Lucas said if there is one thing he’s learned since having to undergo dialysis treatments three times a week for the past three years, it is to appreciate life.
He said he’s learned a lot about himself by just staying patient and slowing down.
“I used to be in a rat race with things,” Lucas said. “Now I just slow down and look at the birds.”
Now he’s hoping that patience will pay off in the form of a new kidney.