Sgt. John Jennings is fighting a battle against his own kidneys and needs to find someone willing to save his life.
Medications to lower his blood pressure stalled the problem temporally. As with most people, the Jennings family believed that they had this under control and had plenty of time before having to take the next steps.
In an unexpected turn of events, Sgt. Jennings was called to report for a possible deployment to Iraq in 2008 and it was during his physical that it was determined that his conditioned had worsened and he was deemed not fit for combat.
He returned to his full-time job with the Army National Guard in Milton, but his condition continued to drain him of all of his energy.
"I still feel lucky, many people with my condition have a lot of pain from cysts that grow in the kidneys, I only have some cramping from the symptoms," Jennings said.
Life continues for the family, Sgt. Jennings continues to go to work while his wife Rebecca works full time as civilian family coordinator for the Army.
They work hard without having the support from family. None of their family members live close by. Still, the two stay involved with their children's lives. Sgt. Jennings said he hopes to continue to coach his son Johnny's baseball team, the Athletics while his wife continues her involvement as a scout leader in their daughter's Autum's Girl Scout troop 964.
The Jennings also have a spot in the Community Garden. Each day the soldier's body is allowing him to do less and less. On September 12, they are planning a family celebration for their twelve-year wedding anniversary. Family is important and it's hard to get someone to watch the kids, according to Rebecca.
Both kidneys combined can work at about 180 percent, and they only need to work at 40-50 percent in order to clean the blood of it's impurities. Unfortunately for Jennings, doctors stopped measuring him at 15 percent.
Jennings is scheduled to begin the process of dialysis within the next few weeks. One bright spot is that on Monday they received a letter from the United Network for Organ Sharing. Jennings is now officially on the list for a kidney. Unfortunately that came with the knowledge that there is a four to five-year wait to receive a kidney.
The Jennings are asking for help from the community and has created a Facebook Page Veteran Seeking A Kidney. Anyone interested in donating need to meet many requirements here are some of the basic requirements:
You must have an O blood type and be a tissue match
Good Health (good kidney function)
You would need to undergo psychological assessments.
If a person is a regular blood donor and is listed as a bone marrow donor, they are on the right track. Many people wonder about the costs involved in donating, but all medical expenses would be covered by Medicaid.
For information on donor testing, contact the transplant team at Rhode Island Hospital by calling transplant manager Bette Hopkins Senecal at 401-444-3285.