CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A former NASCAR pit crew member was at the height of his career when he received a devastating diagnosis. Just as things were starting to turn around, a tragic accident has left him devastated once again.
Two years ago, Nick Deal was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. His wife and high school sweetheart Donna told Channel 9′s Susanna Black that she couldn’t stand by and watch her husband, who always lived life to the fullest, suffer. So, she got tested to see if she could be a living donor. It turns out, she was a perfect match.
“It was just a burden lifted off my shoulders. I thought I was going to get to live,” Nick Deal told Channel 9′s Susanna Black.
The two were whisked into surgery on Feb. 9. Nick says he took to Donna’s kidney immediately.
“My hands didn’t hurt. My feet didn’t hurt. I had a little bit of energy again. It was like a whole new body,” Nick Deal said.
The Deals believed it was the start of a new beginning.
Donna was discharged a couple of days after the transplant. Nick was set to join her at home on Valentine’s Day. He joked with his nurses that his Valentine had given him a kidney so he could live again.
Nick’s niece was driving him home from the hospital when they were involved in a serious accident on Interstate 85.
Nick was airlifted to the hospital where two teams of surgeons were waiting to try and save his new organ.
Donna says the hours that followed were some of the toughest of her life.
“Knowing that when he woke up it would probably be me telling him the kidney didn’t make it, that there was nothing else they could do,” she said. “Now I have one kidney, and I can’t help him again.”
Nick is home recovering, but the kidney he has is only functioning at about 8%.
“Depression is set in worse than it ever has in my life. There’s just nothing to be happy about anymore,” he said.
His only hope now is to find another living donor. Donna believes the right person will hear their story and help her husband.
“We have a lot of people praying for us. I do believe in miracles,” she said.
According to Donna, a living kidney donor must be 25 or older and in good health. She said the entire process for the donor is completely free.
If you are interested in helping the Deals, call Atrium’s Donor Office at 704-355-3602.
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