2017 Transplant and Organ Donation Calendar: Drew Stapleton
For more than 20 years, Drew Stapleton, 51, of Onalaska, Wis., lived the life of what medical professionals used to call a "fragile diabetic" - no matter how carefully he monitored his blood sugar, he still had extreme difficulty controlling it.
As a result, he suffered many complications and underwent about 10 eye procedures in a two-year span alone. By 2007, he was giving himself insulin injections five times a day.
His nephrologist told him he needed either a combined pancreas/kidney transplant, or he had to go on dialysis. Drew wanted to avoid dialysis, so he traveled to University Hospital to undergo testing for transplant.
After one and a half years on the waitlist, Drew, an operations management professor at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, received the gift of life on September 15, 2008. He found out after the surgery that in addition to Type 1 diabetes, he also had Type 2 diabetes. But he felt so much better.
"My life completely changed - physically, mentally and spiritually," he says. "I was much better able to enjoy life and appreciate the things I had. I felt like I was 20 years younger."
As Drew was enjoying his new, healthy life, he was watching his brother, John, deteriorate. John, who had Type 2 diabetes, also was experiencing decreased kidney function and had to go on dialysis. But he lived in New Mexico, and there were no transplant centers there that offered pancreas transplants. Even if he were to receive a kidney transplant alone, he would have to wait up to a decade because there was a lack of donors.
"I started praying for John and his wife and encouraging them," says Drew. Finally, John came up to Madison for testing, and Drew took a week off from work to drive him between his hotel and his appointments at University Hospital. John was placed on the waitlist and received his own gift of life on July 10, 2013.