DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — His selfless act to save a friend’s life ended up saving his own. A Danville man flew all the way to Florida to give his kidney to a family friend — but when doctors took a look at it, they found a tumor the size of an avocado.
“She said, ‘Pat, well, you have done great. But you’re not going to donate your kidney to Perry nor are you going to donate it to anybody else,’” Pat O’Shaughnessy said.
The would-be donor was able to get the tumor and a part of his kidney removed. Even in the midst of his own recovery, his main focus is still saving the man’s life who helped to save his.
Perry Hess has been waiting to get a new kidney for more than a year. For most of his life, he’s only been functioning with one.
“I just kind of kept trucking along,” Hess said. “I was tolerating the kidney disease and the kidney failure pretty well for a while, but last year we needed to start dialysis. I got pretty sick. It was time.”
His brothers, soon-to-be in-laws, and other family members all tried to help, but couldn’t.
“It is difficult. It’s a big ask. I’m not really sure how to ask people and be like, hey, I need this. Are you willing to [help]?” said Hess.
He didn’t have to ask O’Shaughnessy. When O’Shaughnessy heard Hess was still looking, he took it as a sign.
“I think right there, my heart said, ‘I know what I’m going to do.’ So by the time I got home, my brain was convinced. I talked to my wife and started filling out the paperwork at Mayo Clinic,” O’Shaughnessy said.
It’s a good thing he did. While he was preparing to give his kidney away, doctors found another reason to take it out. It was cancer.
“I was just in shock,” O’Shaughnessy said. “I thought, it can’t be cancer. I’m in the best shape I’ve been in in 15 years, and I was on my mission.”
That mission didn’t stop. Even through his diagnosis and recovery, helping Hess is still front and center.
“My life will be fine. In six to eight weeks, I’ll be back to myself and living the life I’ve been fortunate to live. But Perry won’t,” O’Shaughnessy said.
O’Shaughnessy said he was inspired by his sister who donated a kidney years ago. Now that he is unable to, he hopes he can reach someone who can.
“We want to get him that kidney, and we’re going to turn the final pages on the Perry and Pat story and start a new book with our remaining lives,” O’Shaughnessy said. “We just hope that can happen and happen soon.”
While O’Shaughnessy is advocating for help for Hess, Hess is hoping this story inspires more donors for others. They are encouraging anyone who has the ability to at least look into it.