Never a doubt about donating
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Jim Kintz of Marshalls Creek donated a kidney in Lauren Davis's name through the Matched Pair Program, allowing Lauren to receive a kidney transplant. This picture was taken just before Lauren received her kidney and Jim followed a couple of hours later to donate one of his. Both are hoping that through Kinsley's ShopRite's Annual Donor Awareness Day, they can help make more people aware of the lives that can be saved through organ donations.
In March 2010, Jim and Judy Kintz of Marshalls Creek went to Crocodile Rock with some friends from their church as a show of support for a fellow church member, Lauren Davis, a Christian Rock singer.
The Kintzes knew of Lauren, but had never spoken with her. After her appearance that Saturday night, Lauren's father met up with the church group to thank them for their support.
In the course of the conversation, John Davis revealed that his daughters, Lauren, and her sister, were both on kidney dialysis. He talked about the Matched Pair Program at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md.
"As soon as he told us this, I felt God place it on my heart to donate a kidney for Lauren," says Jim, 55.
In talking it over with his wife, he learned she also felt the call. As they talked about it, they agreed that Jim should be the one to donate a kidney.
The next morning at Sunday worship at his church, Innovation, in Cresco, he asked his deacon to help him pray about it.
"As soon as I was finished, I walked out into the sanctuary. No one else was there but within seconds, Lauren walked in the door, like an answer to a prayer. I walked up to her and told her I was going to donate a kidney for her."
Lauren says it was nothing short of amazing that this complete stranger approached her and blurted out that he was going to give her a kidney.
In a matter of days he was being tested and after three months, he was qualified to be a donor. He also qualified to give Lauren his kidney but Lauren would have had to take more medication because he wasn't a perfect match. By becoming a part of the Matched Pair Program, Jim's kidney would be donated to a perfect match while a perfect match for Lauren would be found.
Jim says there were three things that had to happen for him to do this. He had to be spiritually ready, mentally ready and physically ready. After praying about his decision he felt he was spiritually ready.
When his boss, Chris Kinsley of Kinsley's ShopRite in Brodheadsville, gave Jim his support and offered to help in any way, he felt he was mentally ready. Weighing 240 pounds, Jim knew he'd recover better if he was 40 pounds lighter. Through "eating a lot of salads" and walking 1 1/2-2 miles every day, he lost the weight and became physically ready.
On Aug. 10, both Jim and Lauren were in Johns Hopkins Hospital preparing for their surgeries. Lauren was to receive a kidney from a 54-year-old woman and Jim was to donate a kidney to a 59-year-old woman named Judy. Judy's daughter, Jenny, had donated her kidney to a 10-year-old boy, which saved his life. Because of Jim's donation, a domino effect was created and 10 kidneys in all were donated.
"The Matched Pair Program helps people get kidneys quicker. It might have taken Lauren two to four years to get a kidney instead of two months," he says. "It was like God coordinated this whole operation."
As Jim was wheeled into the recovery room, Lauren was already there and gave Jim the thumbs up and cried out, "Jim, you rock."
Jim says his recovery went smoothly with very little pain.
"They put me in what was like a penthouse suite. I could have lobster and filet mignon for dinner. My wife and I invited Lauren and her mother up to join us for dinner and movies. It's what Johns Hopkins does for its donors."
Jim was in the hospital four days and says he took a Tylenol Extra Strength tablet one time and was back to work in six weeks. He is the produce manager at Kinsley's ShopRite.
Jim can't say enough good things about his employers, the Kinsley family.
"Oh gosh, they made this so easy for me and supported my decision wholeheartedly."
They continued to support Jim when he asked them to help him get the word out about organ donations. So on Friday, June 25, it will be Kinsley's ShopRite's First Annual Donor Awareness Day from noon-4 p.m. at the store's location on Route 209 in Brodheadsville.
There will be a Gift of Life representative to answer organ donation questions; the Red Cross Blood Mobile will be accepting blood donations; Organ Donor bracelets and pins will be available; and for the kids there will be a moon bounce, balloon animals and face painting. There will be food and much more.
There will also be "celebrity baggers" at the checkouts and they are asking for volunteers.
Jim says his family has been there for him all the way.
"My wife is like a rock. Without her I wouldn't have been able to do this."
He also received support from his three children and eight grandchildren.
Lauren was in the hospital for 10 days after her surgery, as her medications were regulated. A music teacher at East Stroudsburg Elementary School and a Christian Rock singer, 28-year-old Lauren says she cannot express in words what Jim did for her.
"It is totally amazing that someone I didn't even know wanted to give me a kidney. I'm very grateful to him."
The experience has changed her life. She was on peritoneal dialysis for two years.
"I have more independence now for my work at school and in pursuing my singing career," she says.
Having been through this together, a bond has been forged and they have the greatest respect for each other.
Both Lauren and Jim will be at the First Annual Donor Awareness Day on Friday to meet and talk with people about their experience.
"I believe God gives you something to do and you should do it. I just happened to be listening this time," says Jim.