Dan Klein | WTHI Indiana
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Kidney disease is one of the top 10 causes of death in the Wabash Valley.
But Dan Gisel, of Terre Haute, shouldn't be one of the victims.
Instead, he's able to play cards with his brother Steve Gisel, 28. But more than a last name, now they share something far greater. Less than a week ago, Dan got a gift of a kidney from Steve.
In January, Dan, an otherwise healthy 31-year-old, got a call he won't forget.
"My body was physically shutting down so it was a pretty scary moment," said Dan.
Soon, another call came, from Steve who immediately offered to give Dan one of his healthy kidneys.
On May 26, the offer became a reality.
It may be tough to imagine that just four months after the original diagnosis, the brothers are recovering together at Dan's home Wednesday.
"I'm definitely 100 percent grateful for him in my life," said Dan.
Steve says looking back at the entire process, including the tests, the surgery, and a few days of recovery, there was little to fear. It was an easy sacrifice considering the life he was saving.
"The hardest thing about the whole experience was just being afraid of what to expect," said Steve.
Dr. Kumar Gaurav says there's a 500,000 more people like Dan waiting for a transplant in America.
"There are people waiting in line for three to five years," said Dr. Gaurav, physician at Internal Medicine Nephrology, Inc.
Dr. Gaurav says only 10 percent of kidney transplant recipients get a kidney from living person like Steve. But if everyone would sign up to be an organ donor when they die, he says the list would shrink to almost zero.
"We feel it if it's our family or friends," said Dr. Gaurav. "But the truth is, there are other patients who are also somebody's family members and friends."
Dan and Steve are looking forward to completing a full recovery in the coming days.
Already, some parts of Dan's lifestyle have been able to change. He is able to eat bananas, oranges and pizza. He doesn't have to do dialysis at home four times a day for 30 minutes each.
"Honestly before this I wasn't an organ donor and now I am," says Dan. "It will definitely change a life and maybe three, four, five, six, or seven lives."
"It's really easy to become an organ donor, just a couple moments," says Steve.
You may not have to make a sacrifice like Steve in your lifetime. But with your death, by becoming a donor, you can insure that two brothers like Dan and Steve can keep playing cards together for years to come.
Dr. Gaurav says regular doctor appointments and routine blood tests can often detect kidney disease early on.
He adds that the procedure of dialysis has greatly changed over the years. While many have grown to dread the word, he says there is no need. With recent advancements, it can often be done at home and around your schedule.