By Audrey LaFave
GLADSTONE - A local kidney donor and recipient are back at home and on the mend after undergoing a transplant surgery last month. Both men are healthy and had good things to say about the experience.
Andy George, left, poses with Lou Klein in front of the clubhouse at the Gladstone Golf Club, where both men work. George recently donated a kidney to Klein, who suffered from polycystic kidney disease. (Daily Press photo by Audrey LaFave)
Lou Klein, of the Gladstone Golf Club, received a kidney from Andy George, his employee and friend, May 14, at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison. Klein, 49, needed the kidney because both of his were deteriorating due to polycystic kidney disease.
George, 19, said the surgeries were long - his lasting about four hours and Klein's lasting about seven. But, he said, it was worth it.
"It went well; it pretty much went off without a hitch," said George. "I'm doing well and he's doing well."
Klein said his recovery is also going well and he is feeling healthy and blessed. He said he feels 100 percent better than he did before, and truly believes he was saved.
"I really think that it was because of the thoughts and prayers of... the people around here. The outpouring of emotion was just exceptional," he said. "So many people were rooting for Andy and me."
Klein said he is so thankful for George's generosity, it's hard to put it into words. He said he loves Andy and will always remember the gift he gave to him.
"I can't imagine the courage of a young man to do something this selfless," he said. "I looked at him the other day and said, 'Have I told you that I love you today? I love you, man. You saved my life.'"
Prior to the surgery Klein had to have dialysis every other day for several hours.
"And no more dialysis; does that feel great! Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, (when he would have been in dialysis), I say a prayer," he said.
Thursday will mark three weeks since the surgery. Although both men are back at work, they still have to take it easy after undergoing such major surgery.
"I can't lift anything more than five or 10 pounds," George said.
Klein said he's back at the golf club several hours per week, but it's not really "work" to him and a lot of it is therapeutic.
"It's really been helping me. It's therapy for me, the place is just so pretty," he said. "Lately I've been walking the hills for exercise."
Klein said when the doctors removed his old kidneys, they weighed a total of 13 pounds. Healthy kidneys weigh less than a pound each.
"The feeling that I have is just so amazing because it's been so long since I had a functioning kidney in there," he said. "I feel fantastic. All
the numbers that they use for gauging how your kidney function is working have all dropped back into the normal range."
George said he was in the recovery room after surgery for several hours before he was moved to a regular hospital room.
"It pretty much went as planned," he said. "(The ride home from Wisconsin) was pretty bumpy. It wasn't the most comfortable, but it wasn't too bad. It was worth it."
Klein, who has been the manager of the Gladstone Golf Club for many years, is back to work, and so is George. George worked for Klein at the golf club through high school and returned this summer after his first year of college. He has also been a member at the club since seventh grade.
Klein lives in Escanaba with his wife Maureen. George is the son of Tammy and Jeff George of Brampton. He will be a sophomore in the fall at Michigan State University.