DONATE LIFE ORGAN DONATION AWARENESS- CARTHAGE, MISSOURI
Carthage police chief to receive transplant
Former MSSU student volunteers to donate kidney to former teacher
By Alexandra Nicolasnews@joplinglobe.com
CARTHAGE, Mo. — Carthage police Chief Greg Dagnan got the news via e-mail that he would be getting a new kidney.
His donor, as it turns out, was one of his law enforcement students when he was teaching at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. Dagnan said he remembers Tricia Waddell, 23, as a student, but that he didn’t know her well when she was in school.
When Waddell found out that she was a match to be a donor, she let Dagnan know via an e-mail note that, according to his wife, Cindy Dagnan, began with: “I don’t know if you remember me.”
The 40-year-old police chief and father of four had kept his polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, and the decline of his kidney function a secret.
“In the profession that I’m in, you don’t go around telling people that you have a life-threatening disease,” he said.
When Dagnan’s kidney function reached the point that he needed a transplant, the Dagnans put the word out to their church. Those willing to donate an organ would have to be tested to see if they were a close enough match to Dagnan.
While Waddell is the closest and best match, Dagnan also has a backup donor, his family pastor, who also was tested.
Waddell, who works for the Kansas City Police Department, learned of Dagnan’s situation through her parents.
“I don’t think their intention was ‘you should get tested,’” Waddell said. “As a teacher and a police officer, I had so much respect for him, I wanted to help him as soon as I could.”
Waddell went through testing, including a trip to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.
Waddell said that when her sister also called the hospital to be tested, so many people had already volunteered that she was turned down.
“Talk about a humbling experience,” Dagnan said. “That all of these people were willing, I’m grateful in a way I can’t describe.”
Dagnan’s kidney function is now below 20 percent and nearing the 10 percent function that requires dialysis. He said he plans to stay at work until a few days before his transplant.
“He’s my hero,” his wife said. “He does everything that needs to be done, at work and at home. Most people quit work when they’re at 20 percent (kidney function); my husband’s still at work.”
The Dagnans said that while he’s in St. Louis for his surgery and recovering afterward, they will have plenty of help from friends and neighbors. Their lawn will be mowed, the flowers watered. Friends who do not live close by are sending gift cards to help family members with meals while they are in St. Louis.
All the help is something Dagnan has learned to accept.
“People haven’t just offered,” he said. “They say, ‘I’m going to do this for you. You’ll be in St. Louis, so you can’t do anything about it anyway.’”
Dagnan and Waddell are set for their tandem transplant surgery later this month, coincidentally on the Dagnans’ 15th wedding anniversary.
“A woman at church said, ‘What a neat anniversary gift,’” Cindy Dagnan said. “‘You get Greg’s health for your anniversary.’”