by Andy Weddington
Tuesday, 24 April 2018
We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men. - Herman Melville
Kim is a Marine.
Thirty-eight years ago - lieutenants - we met.
A few years later we served together, as captains, at Parris Island - at one point we were the two recruit training company commanders in 2d Recruit Training Battalion.
How I describe Kim to others ...
He is a damn smart, fast study and quick-witted, insightful, capable gentleman whose perspective, topic moot, I respect.
Kim is a leader.
We have kept in touch through the years. He, too, retired a colonel; a year or so before me.
With some frequency I hear from him with thoughts on commentary. But it's been more than a few weeks since a note and that did not occur to me until Sunday afternoon.
While taking a mental break from James D. Hornfischer's descriptive work of combat at sea in 'The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors' I happened upon a news clip on social media about Kim.
Interesting - I was reading about young men of remarkable courage staring down death, some succumbing in the most gruesome ways imaginable, and here was Kim, one of two men, describing to a reporter a life and death story.
I sent him a short note - commenting on selflessness and courage. Opining a feat of battlefield courage is one thing but his decision seems more heroic still for the variables of deliberate thought and time.
Before reading Kim's reply, take a moment to watch a less than two minutes news clip. It's worth every second.
Enter into Google or social media search engines "utmc Kim Winzeler kidney donation"
From Kim ...
Thanks Andy, it’s another interesting and continuing journey ... adding a couple paragraphs in the narrative of life. ... most strange is how unaware I was until age 60 of the dire need for live kidney donors ... 100,000 needed in the US is one estimate ... even that may be on the short side since so many don’t even get on “waiting lists” for any number of reasons (diagnosis lacking, medical access, age, complications with other ailments, etc). Dialysis is an option but dialysis short circuits the life span + and life quality ... if it’s even feasible for some in such a crisis mode.
What I can clearly say is these specialized kidney (renal) transplant doctors 100% know how to do the kidney transplant operation — which in the pantheon of medical miracles is at the elementary school level. Nothing like the multiple daggers of cancer treatment which encompasses (as we both know) so many advanced treatments, dangers and techniques. Kidney donation is not like chemo, or radiation treatments ... and a benefit of kidney donation: what guy doesn’t want a long, cool “Civil War” type slash scar to show off occasionally 😉
Live Kidney donation is a classic case of cut and paste (with some sewing and stapling) ... at age 60 ... having two healthy kidneys is generally believed to NOT advance the length or quality of life — as opposed to having only one well functioning kidney organ. Being a light drinking, non-smoker in decent shape helps, too!
Recovery has been swift, consistent and exhilarating ... although I have a much greater appreciation of the potential addictive issues of today’s morphine + codeine based painkillers ... the thing about them is they work ... and I mean they work RIGHT NOW ... no delay in the morphine ... I’d never had it before, and only want it again when I’m at the edge of it all, if then. What a rush, a pull ... that I can see why we have such a narcotic problem in this country with over-prescribing these pills, or those that nearly duplicate that feeling.
So all is well ... I tell folks that ask and are interested to check into it ... get initial screening ... nearly ANY kidney is needed by someone if the donor passes the screening. I probably have had more tests in the past 4 months than I had combined in my entire life (they obviously don’t want to put a “bad organ” in someone else! It cost me nothing financially, all paid by the “hospital and insurance” of the recipient. I feel I’ve gained a lot by taking this short detour on “the road less traveled.”
Your friend, Kim
(Feel free to use this as "A Colonel of Truth” guest blog entry, if you need a filler day 😉)
Well, some stories need not wait for a "filler day" and this is one.
If not familiar with the 14 U. S. Marine Corps leadership traits, look them up.
Kim's life-saving decision to help his friend, Tim Ballmer, battling for his life, in one sense or another, exemplifies them all.
Those who know Kim are not surprised. He's the guy, the Marine, you want on your side in a fight - of any sort.
Per Mr. Melville, sometimes literal the thousand fibers that connect us with our fellow men.