After waiting for kidney for years, Beaudry marks one year since successful transplant

Posted 4/28/20

For Marc Beaudry, April carries a special milestone: The one-year anniversary of his kidney transplant.

“It’s been a great year, because being off dialysis is marvelous, and the kidney …

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After waiting for kidney for years, Beaudry marks one year since successful transplant

Posted

For Marc Beaudry, April carries a special milestone: The one-year anniversary of his kidney transplant.

“It’s been a great year, because being off dialysis is marvelous, and the kidney has done extremely well,” he said.

Getting a kidney transplant was a long process.

Beaudry had experienced health issues for quite some time, but put off going to the doctor. By October 2013, “I was in pretty much dire condition,” he said.

At one point, Beaudry tried walking from his business, Mountain West Computer, to the Chinese restaurant about a block away, “and just about didn’t make it.”

His wife, Sherry, insisted that he needed to seek medical help. Beaudry agreed to have his labs drawn at Powell Valley Healthcare, and then went back to work.

“Half an hour passed and they called me and they said, ‘You need to get back in the hospital,’” Beaudry recalled. “The exact words they used were, ‘You have high-panic results.’ Well, that caused me to go into high panic.”

Beaudry’s kidneys were shutting down. He went to the emergency room at PVHC and saw Dr. Ronald Orbin, “which was a great blessing to me because I knew him.”

“His words were, ‘Marc, I’ve never seen anybody still walking with these numbers,’” Beaudry recalled.

He then went to Billings, where a specialist said he was “48 hours from dead.”

Beaudry had an enlarged prostate that caused a backup into his kidneys. He eventually started dialysis and spent years waiting on the transplant list.

“There were all kinds of issues while I was on dialysis,” he said; he developed prostate cancer and his prostate had to be removed.

Two local donors came forward to give Beaudry a kidney. While both were matches, neither ended up working out. In the second case, the donor went to Denver and she passed the required tests, Beaudry said.

“Then some months later when we actually went down to get the transplant done, she was rejected due to a medical condition,” he said. “So twice local people stepped up, and twice it fell through.”

When the phone rang on April 13, 2019, with news that there may be a kidney for Beaudry in Seattle, he and Sherry had mixed emotions. Beaudry was third on the list for the kidney, so he told his wife it looked like “this probably was just a dry run.”

“We were both afraid to get excited, because of the disappointment six months before that,” Sherry recalled. “But we didn’t really have a lot of time to think about it.”

The couple packed a bag, hopeful that Beaudry might be on his way to Seattle soon.

“They called me back by 11 o’clock that evening and said, ‘Well, the kidney is yours, so you need to be here,’” he said.

Early the next morning, he flew to Seattle and was in the operating room by noon on April 14, 2019.

“God’s timing is impeccable,” Sherry said. “... just when you’re least expecting it, that’s when he blesses.”

Beaudry underwent his surgery and follow-up care at Virginia Mason Hospital, which he called “just an outstanding experience overall.”

As he recovered for five weeks in Washington, Sherry stayed in Wyoming to run the couple’s business. Beaudry’s daughter, Brigitte Arnett, lives in Seattle and helped care for him.

For Sherry, those five weeks apart weren’t as long as she thought they would be, because her husband did so well following the transplant.

“He had no issues whatsoever — no going backwards after he went forward, so that made it easier for me,” she said.

The kidney was a great match for Beaudry.

“It was quite a noticeable difference immediately,” he said.

In the months following the surgery, Beaudry’s health continued to improve.

“Every day has the possibility of something not going smoothly, but that’s true of anybody’s life,” he said. “So I feel really blessed.”

Beaudry doesn’t know very much about his donor — only that he was a 20-year-old male who died of a drug overdose.

He waited until the one-year mark to try to get in touch with the young man’s family.

“It’s hard — you don’t want to inflict pain on them, but you do want them to know that their sacrifice was a blessing,” Beaudry said.

He isn’t sure what to say to the donor’s family.

“That’s the hardest part,” Beaudry said. “You know, obviously you can say all the normal, trite, common things, but it means more to me than that. It doesn’t only mean a lot to me, it means a lot to my whole family.”

Before the transplant, he didn’t have the strength or health to exercise, but now he is able to work out for at least 30 minutes every morning.

Beaudry has always been an early riser, but during the years he was not doing well and on dialysis, Sherry worried on the mornings he didn’t wake up as early.

“Life is a lot better — I don’t worry quite as much anymore,” Sherry said. “ ... But it’s still just that little thing that I’m having a hard time getting past if he sleeps in, and I don’t know if he’s still with me. It’s hard to let go of that one.”

But she has held on to her faith and trusted God.

“I’m just thankful that I’ve always had a connection with God and I lean on him and he gets me through whatever life throws my way,” Sherry said. “... He’s the one person we can lean on when things are hard in our life.”

After their own experience with organ donation, the couple encourages people to consider signing up to become donors.

“You just don’t know how many lives you can save or improve in some way,” Sherry said.

Beaudry also encourages men not to ignore an enlarged prostate, “because they’re very dangerous.”

“You see all the time advertised these prostate remedies … I tried those in an effort to avoid going to the doctor,” he said. “That was nearly fatal.”

He credits Powell Valley Healthcare with saving his life.

“They were the first contact, and they took it very seriously,” he said. “The whole team has been fabulous.”

With Beaudry continuing to regain his strength, the couple hopes to backpack in Yellowstone National Park this summer — something they haven’t been able to do for years. Of course, the park has to open first, since it’s closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Maybe July will be good — we can all have our lives back again,” Sherry said.

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