Editor’s Note: Today Vevay Media Group continues a series on two members of the Switzerland County community who have been on the journey to have a kidney transplant. There are approximately 25,000 kidney transplants in the United States each year — but those statistics hit home when a small and united community like Switzerland County is made aware of two different cases going on at the same time. Currently there are 90,000 people in the U.S. awaiting a kidney transplant, according to donatelife.org.
This week, we tell the journey of Dan Mangold of Center Square and his journey to receiving a kidney transplant — and his ongoing recovery.
It all started with a back issue that Dan Mangold was having in June of last year.
“They told me up at UC (University of Cincinnati hospital) that it was caused by medication over the years,” Dan said. “Before my neck surgery, I had problems with everything from my neck down going numb. My spinal cord was pinching. I was taking ibuprofen for about 10-12 years. The neck surgery was back in April of 2010.”
Mangold said that a variety of medications over the years appears to be the reason for the damage to his kidneys, and in a twist of fate, pain in his back led doctors to discover the damage that had been done to his kidneys. They found Stage 4 kidney failure.
“I didn’t have any symptoms or anything,” Dan said. “When I first found out, my level was down to 16 (16-percent kidney function). They gave me medication to raise it up to 25; then they checked it once and it was 24 — and within a week it had gone down to 20. They were starting to drop back down again. When the number dropped down to 20 again, that’s when they said I’d have to start on dialysis, so it worked out for the best.”
Since the discovery of the issues back in June, Mangold had to begin a series of tests and analysis to see just how severe the damage was.
“I had to go through different procedures to get on the kidney list,” he said. “That’s like getting released from my dentist; my family doctor — just saying that I didn’t have any pending surgeries coming up. I had to have a colonoscopy done; and blood work — everything from June on until December.”
On January 12th of this year, Dan was officially added to the list to potentially receive a kidney transplant.
It was Friday, January 27th, and Dan was at work at North American Stainless.
“They called me at 11:30 a.m., and they told me they had found a kidney, and they wanted me up there at 2 p.m.,” Dan said. “I had to go through a series of procedures in order to get ready for the surgery.”
At that point, priorities began to change.
“It was 11:30 a.m. and he calls me,” wife Lucinda said. “I was at work (at First Financial Bank in Vevay) and everything changed at that moment. I made arrangements to leave work and met Dan at home.”
“I called ‘Cin’ and she thought I was joking about it,” Dan said. “I said, ‘We’ve gotta go because we’ve got to go up to Cincinnati’. She beat me home. I came home and got changed and we went right up.”
He was at work in Kentucky when the call came at 11:30 a.m. — and the Mangolds were in Cincinnati at the hospital by 1:30 p.m.
“The surgery started at 10:30 p.m. that night; and they got done with me about 3:30 a.m. (Saturday morning),” Dan said. “They attached this new kidney to my other ones. It was a graft — they tied it all together and it’s running into one bladder.”
Recovery from the surgery meant that Dan had to stay in the hospital from Friday until Tuesday night, when they arrived back home about 7:30 p.m.
So —considering he had no noticeable symptoms prior to the diagnosis — does he feel differently now that the new kidney is functioning?
“I feel more energetic, I think,” he said. “I was tired a lot in the past, before I had the surgery. Not, it seems like I’ve got a lot more energy than it used to be.”
And his current daily routine?
“They told me to just stay home for the first month after the surgery,” Dan said. “I need to stay away from other people, and if I do go somewhere, I have to wear a mask. I can’t drive.”
Lucinda said that many of the precautions come because the medical team took Dan’s immune system “down to literally nothing” so that the new kidney had a better chance of being accepted by the body. She said that someone needed to be with Dan 24/7 for the first three weeks following the surgery. Lucinda has taken a leave of absence from her job at the bank in order to care for her husband.
“It’s the same way as a cancer victim,” Dan said of the compromising of his immune system. “My mom did the same thing when she had lung cancer for her tests and radiation treatments and stuff like that. For me, it’s so I don’t reject the kidney and I can build all of the kidneys back up at the same time.”
Dan says that he will be taking anti-rejection medications for the rest of his life. He will be continually checked on a regular basis; and as long as everything stays on course, he hopes to return to work.
The reality in the celebration of receiving a kidney is that a day that the Mangolds had prayed for is also a pretty bad day for another family somewhere.
The call and the rush to the hospital means that the available kidney came as the result of tragedy in the lives of others.
“We were waiting for a living kidney, but then his levels and function kept going down,” Lucinda said. “We were at a point where he was going to have to go on dialysis — so we opted for a kidney from someone who had passed away. All we know is that it was a larger gentleman — because the kidney is much larger than Daniel’s; and that he had died in a car wreck. That’s all we know. We’re thankful for organ donors. We’re both organ donors ourselves.”
The Mangolds are also very aware that Dan’s donor kidney came after him being on the transplant list for just over two weeks.
“Some people wait years,” Dan said. “We’re very thankful.”
According to the National Kidney Foundation, the median wait time for a person’s first kidney transplant is 3.6 years.
Over 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney waiting list each month — meaning a new person is added to the list approximately every 14 minutes.
Dan Mangold and his family lived in the Mount Healthy area of Cincinnati until he was in the third grade, when the family moved to Switzerland County. They lived on Greeley Avenue in Vevay while Dan grew up, later moving out to the farm.
He graduated from Switzerland County High School in 1980.
The Mangolds reside in Center Square.
“I feel pretty good, really,” Mangold said. “I’m going to the doctor to be monitored twice a week. So far, everything looks good.”