What: Fundraiser for Rich and Denise Glenn. The benefit includes a spaghetti dinner, dancing, raffles and a silent auction.
When: 6 p.m. April 24.
Where: Salem Lutheran Church, 401 E. Military Ave., Fremont.
Cost: Dinner is $5 for adults and $3 for children.
Other: Items continue to be collected for the raffle and silent auction. Those wanting to donate items or cash may call 719-4938. An account also has been established at First State Bank, in care of Denise Glenn, 1005 E. 23rd St. Fremont, NE.
April is National Donate Life Month, dedicated to raising awareness of the ever-growing need for organ donation.
n More than 106,000 people in the United States are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. More than 500 of those are Nebraska residents waiting to receive life-saving hearts, livers, lungs, kidneys and other organs.
* Last year in Nebraska, 45 people donated organs. It was almost a record year for the state, but not enough to meet the growing need in Nebraska.
* Every day, 18 people will die because they didn't get the transplant they needed.
* Those interested in joining the Nebraska Organ and Tissue Donor Registry may do so by marking "yes" on their driver's license at the Department of Motor Vehicles to organ and tissue donation, by registering online at www.nedonation.org or by calling Nebraska Organ Recovery and requesting a donor registration card.
Source: Provided by Fremont Area Medical Center from Nebraska Organ Recov
Rich Glenn will tell you he married the right woman. Glenn and his wife, Denise, were teens when they met. He was almost 20 and she almost 19 when they married in 1973. Three children, six grandchildren and almost 37 years later, they're still in love.
And they're quite compatible - in more ways than one.
Not only do the Fremonters get along well personally, but they're good match in terms of kidney donation. So now, after two years of dialysis, Glenn will get a special gift from his wife - a kidney.
The transplant will take place on May 26 in the Lied Transplant Center at Omaha's Nebraska Medical Center, but prior to that the community will have a fundraiser for the couple.
Alissa Remington of Fremont is in charge of the benefit, which includes a dinner and dance and starts at 6 p.m. April 24 at Salem Lutheran Church in Fremont. Proceeds will be used for medical and living expenses.
Area residents may remember Glenn as pastor of Word Outreach Center, which later became Christ Alive! church. An ordained minister, Glenn was pastor of that church from 1983 until 2001 when it closed. During that time, the Glenns also sponsored The Refuge, a youth outreach ministry, which operated for 18 months in downtown Fremont. Glenn said he's not a pastor at this time, but has been ministering at an Omaha church and Life Song Church in Wahoo.
His medical issues surfaced in 2007. He began retaining fluids, then got up one morning and couldn't breathe. Doctors determined his kidneys were the problem. A nephrologist told Glenn his kidneys probably would function for another three to five years with medication, but in July 2008 he was hospitalized with gall bladder problems.
Due to complications, he was placed in a medical coma. His kidneys shut down and when Glenn awoke he was on dialysis.
"He's been on it ever since and our whole life changed," Denise said. "He was unable to work and he had to apply for disability, which we've never done. That was really hard on him."
Glenn, 56, goes to DaVita Dialysis in Fremont three times a week for about five hours, which includes treatment time.
"Dialysis is their (the patients') part-time job, because they're here so many hours a week and it takes three days a week out of their schedule," said Cindy Clausen, facility administrator and registered nurse at DaVita.
Glenn's physical symptoms include chronic fatigue and weakness. He has difficulty focusing for long periods of time.
One day after Glenn was having a particularly hard time, his wife made a decision.
She was going to get tested to see if she'd be a match for a transplant.
"He was very quiet and subdued, because he didn't want me to have to go through that," Denise said. "He didn't want to take a kidney away from me, but I said, ‘You're not taking it. I'm giving it.'"
She went for testing and within a week a nurse called to say that Denise was a match.
It's not terribly uncommon for one spouse to donate a kidney to another.
"About half of the transplants we do are done with living donors," said Sue Miller, manager of the kidney/pancreas program at the medical center.
Of that number, about half are blood relatives. The other half consists of non-related people such as spouses or friends.
The donor's surgery, which is done laparoscopically, is a minimally invasive procedure that takes four to five hours. The recipient's surgery takes about 2 1/2 to three hours, Miller said.
It takes between six to eight weeks for donors and recipients to return to full activity and unlimited lifting. Many donors return to work after three to four weeks, if they have a desk job or only do light lifting, Miller said.
Miller noted recovery for the donor is more painful than for the recipient.
"They're having a surgery they didn't need to do something wonderful for someone else and they have more pain," Miller said.
For recipients, Miller said, the results are amazing.
"Most of the time they didn't realize how bad they felt and when they have a functioning kidney, they can tell right away how much better they feel," Miller said.
Glenn said he's been told once he gets a new kidney, he will feel like he's 30 years old again. He's looking forward to that.
And Denise, 55, said she's excited about donating a kidney to her husband.
"I feel like God's given me grace and strength. I feel it rise up inside of me. You want to fight for those you love," she said.
The Glenns noted that besides medical costs, fundraiser proceeds will go toward living expenses since Denise will be off work from her jobs at Expressway Foodmart and Nifty Fifties.
Denise, who went back to school 3 1/2 years ago, is working toward an associate's degree and is almost ready to become certified in medical coding and billing.
Glenn is making plans, too.
"I'd like to continue in ministry," he said. "I'm going to have to find some secular work and I've been nosing around, but there's not a whole lot out there. Once I feel like I'm 30 again, my eyes might reopen and the sky's the limit.
"The sky fell two years ago, but now it's looking brighter again."