On January 17, 2017, Matthew Polk was called to OSF St. Francis in Peoria to receive a kidney and pancreas transplant. A surgery that is only performed two to four times a year. Scared out of his mind he knew this is what he had to do if he wanted to be with his family.
“My biggest thought going in was that I had never had surgery before, ” said Polk. “So you go from not having surgery before to a major double transplant.”
He had type 1 diabetes since the age of 3. He had somewhat of a handle on the situation until 15 years ago when he said the doctors started observing his renal function. His kidney was functioning at less than 15% and the doctors knew they had to do something before it was too late.
He had a simultaneous transplant on January 19 2017. It took months to recover but he said he feels so much better now, like a feeling he has never had before. Being a recipient of an organ donation, Polk now understands the importance of organ donating and explains that value to his loved ones.
“When my son went to get his license at 16, I asked him, ‘are you going to donate?'” said Polk. “He said ‘well what do you think I should do dad?’. I told him ‘Well I wouldn’t be here id people didn’t do that’.”
Matt is now healthy loving life with his family but he can’t stop thinking of the donor who gave him another chance at life. He has since wrote a letter to the family of the donor and prays for him everyday.