Emily Progin, PR and Communications Coordinator
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WATERVILLE ARMY DAD RECEIVES KIDNEY AND NEW LIFE FROM FELLOW VETERAN
Video Shows Their Emotional Meeting
WATERVILLE, Maine—To two veterans and their families, the words “kidney transplant” are now synonymous with the word “miracle.” Colorado veteran Mark Obert donated his kidney to save the life of someone he met for the first time just ten days before the transplant: fellow veteran and beloved Waterville husband and father Rick Pomelow.
Rick became ill suddenly in May 2016. He learned that he had just 10% kidney function remaining, and he immediately began emergency dialysis to stay alive. Rick, his wife, Jennifer, and his teen daughter, Hannah, were left reeling by the rapid progression of Rick’s urgent medical need. He joined the waiting list for a kidney transplant in January 2017—a wait that can exceed five years for the average transplant candidate. Desperate, Rick and his family posted on Facebook hoping that, somehow, the post might inspire someone in their community to step forward as a potential living kidney donor.
Mark Obert, a fellow veteran living in Colorado, reached out to Rick and told him that he felt called by his faith to save Rick’s life. Incredibly, after extensive testing, Mark was found to be a perfect match as a kidney donor for Rick.
The two met for the first time on April 8—just ten days before the transplant. “We hugged, talked, went out to eat, and met Mark’s son,” said Rick. “We really got to know each other.” One incredible coincidence they discovered: Mark and Rick attended the same high school, Madison Area Memorial, just two years apart, though they never crossed paths.
Mark, Rick, and their families had the chance to meet again on April 18—transplant day. “I hugged him, and I thanked him so very much for his generosity and selflessness,” said Rick. See the video of their post-transplant meeting here on YouTube.
As Rick and Jennifer handle post-transplant appointments and prepare to embrace their new normal, they envision a future with Mark in it: “We plan to meet up at least once per year on our transplant anniversary date,” said Rick. “Maybe for a Red Sox or Bruins game.”
Photos show the ecstatic pair sporting matching homemade t-shirts made with help from Jennifer Pomelow and Mark’s girlfriend, Katie, that read, “I Shared My Spare” and “I Run on Spare Parts.” On the back: “Kidney Buddies for Life.”
Though Rick has already weathered daunting physical and emotional challenges, his family is still struggling with the vast out-of-pocket costs associated with life after transplant, including $1,200 per month in immunosuppressant medications that he will have to take for the rest of his life. The community can support Rick by making a tax-deductible donation in his honor to the national nonprofit Help Hope Live at helphopelive.org or by calling 800.642.8399. All donations will be used to offset medical and related expenses in honor of Rick Pomelow.
Help Hope Live is a national nonprofit that specializes in engaging communities in fundraising campaigns for people who need a transplant or are affected by a catastrophic injury or illness. Since 1983, campaigns organized by Help Hope Live have raised over $135 million to pay patient expenses.
###Written by Emily Progin