Above: Surrounded by family: The journey to find a kidney for Tim Myers, center, has truly been a family affair.
By Matt Schepeler
In 2016, Tim Myers began having pain in one of his eyes. “I had an eye ache, and I had no idea what was going on. When I went to the doctor, my blood pressure was 250/200. That is when they told me to get the hospital emergency room.
“I was there six days, and they sent me to Kalamazoo to the kidney center and they did a biopsy.” The diagnosis was not good. He was down to 12 percent functional use in both his kidneys.
That was three years ago.
“Well, make that 1,061 days ago. But who is counting,” said Tim with a smile? Since the diagnosis, he has been regularly receiving dialysis in Coldwater, where he lives with his brother, Steve. “Thankfully it is only about a mile from where we live,” said Tim.
While the diagnosis came as a complete surprise, Myers was never in the fight alone. It is truly a family affair.
The Hadden family (his mother is Esther [Hadden] Myers] is well known in the Rome Center and Onsted community, and they rallied together in both prayer and efforts to find a donor for a kidney for Tim.
The journey has been a difficult one. The entire family had searched earnestly, even to the point of having signsdisplayed in the family cars, looking for a donor. “We had around 60-some people say they would try [to give a kidney],” said Tim. But when the reality of the situation hit, some backed off, and many people were quickly refused.
“You can’t be overweight. You can’t be diabetic, you can’t smoke. You really have to be in perfect health,” noted Tim.
Tim’s aunt, Mary Lou Bayes, remembers one time when Tim seemed a little down about the ordeal.
“I told him Tim, don’t you worry. God is saving the best for you.”
Above: Lisa Bayes-Gentner, left, will be donating her kidney to Tim Myers, right, on March 14.
Little did she know that “the best” was of her own flesh and blood.
Lisa Bayes-Gentner, Tim’s cousin, is a registered nurse at Henry Ford Specialty Hospital and lives in Hudson. She had entertained the notion of donating her kidney, but never seriously considered it until last fall. “We were on our girl’s weekend and Aunt Esther (Tim’s mom) was talking about it,” she noted. That night she had a dream that she was telling Tim that she was a match.
That is when Bayes-Gentner began earnestly exploring the issue. She didn’t tell anyone at first, not wanting to get anyone’s hopes up, but made a call to UM Hospital officials. A few days later they contacted her and sent a kit for testing to begin.
Around Thanksgiving they let her know: You are a blood and tissue match. “Then it all started. It became real,” said Bayes-Gentner.
“I just keep praying about it. I was praying and praying, and things kept coming up. I said ‘This is too coincidental. It was like Someone was trying to tell me something. It was like one thing after another.”
She said that everything just aligned. Then she asked her children, to see if they would approve of the idea. She was sure that her son, David, would be dead set against it. “He doesn’t even want me to donate my organs after I die,” she noted.
“David texted me back and said ‘Mom, it scares me, but I will support you 100 percent whatever you decided.”
“That is like it was, Game on! We are going to do this.”
But she kept the news a secret. Only her mom, dad and Aunt Esther Myers knew.
Her mother took the news well. “I immediately went in and started praying about it, and I have had nothing but peace. And since then I have never had anything other than peace. We are all so proud of Lisa,” said Mary Lou.
It was at the Hadden family Christmas get-together that Bayes-Gentner let the rest of the family in on the good news.
“I called them into the room and told them of my little journey and let them know I was a match.”
The response was one of joy.
When asked what it was like to realize he had a match, Tim noted that there were some mixed emotions.
“It was amazing. I didn’t know what to think. I think I was in shock for an hour or two,” he said. He added that there is naturally a concern for Lisa, as well, something that donors struggle with.
The surgery is scheduled for March 14 at UM Hospital, and the family says doctors are very optimistic.
What might be an unexpected side effect for Tim of receiving an organ from Lisa?
“I am such an emotional person. I told Tim ‘Since I am giving you a kidney, you are getting my emotional one. So, he will probably be crying like a baby all the time,” said Lisa.
As one might expect, the three-year journey has been an expensive one. Lisa will miss eight weeks recovering, and Tim has already incurred a variety of unexpected expenses. An organ donation benefit is scheduled on March 11 at Jerry’s Pub, 650 Egan Hwy., from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
There will be a pulled pork dinner and raffle and silent auction. All proceeds will go to Tim and Lisa.