An Eau Claire man is searching for a living kidney donor

Published: Mar. 6, 2022 at 7:31 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - In 2019, Jonathan Spires was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease or kidney failure. Three years later, he’s still looking for a kidney donor.

“I’m a 36-year-old stuck doing dialysis three days a week,” Spires said.

In order to be eligible for the University of Minnesota’s donor list, Spires lost over 100 pounds.

“The one thing that has kept me through that is running actually. I’m a local runner in Eau Claire and I’ve been running since December of last year,” Spires said. “And with other help too, I had weight loss surgery to help me with it through the great folks here with Marshfield Clinic.”

Even with his name on the list, Spires is still five years out from being next in line for a deceased donor.

If he can get a living donor, Spires could take his life off pause.

“I was working full time before all this happened and for a while, I was working while I was doing dialysis pre-COVID,” Spires said. “It just stops your life, your life is halted.”

Spires is currently enrolled at the Chippewa Valley Technical College in pursuit of an IT networking degree.

“I’ve come into class on dialysis days looking like I’m about to fall asleep and they’re always willing to help me, if they know I missed something they’re willing to help me out,” Spires said. “It’s hard but doable.”

If a living donor steps up, Spires hopes to graduate next year and work full-time again.

“After dialysis, you need to have really good health insurance because the anti-rejection medicines are pretty expensive,” Spires said.

To help with the search, Lamar Advertising donated a digital billboard on Highway 53 to Spires for the month of March.

Spires’ family has also been a huge help through it all.

“They helped me out a lot with everything when I’m tired they know I’m tired, they’ll help me out with a lot of the daily chores as much as they can,” Spires said. “Even my little brother does a lot. As much as he can working full-time to help me because I can’t pay most of the bills so my parents and my brother help pay a lot of the bills.”

Spires even has support among his running friends.

“The people I run with here in Eau Claire, Blue Ox running, those guys, the owner Adam is amazing with helping me out with stuff if I need help.”

As he waits for a donor, Spires is keeping his head held high.

“I’m not mad, I’m not nervous about it. I’ll never be, it’s just something I have to live with,” Spires said.

To follow Spires’ journey of finding a kidney donor, you can check in on his Facebook page.

To learn more about donating or if you’re interested you can visit the University of Minnesota’s living donor site or send Spires an email.

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