Kidney transplant leads to new outlook on life

Donate, donate, donate.

That’s the urging of Federal Way resident Ronald Weightman. And Weightman knows a thing or two about donating organs.

Weightman found out in 1996 that his kidneys were failing him. However, with careful care, he was able to forgo dialysis treatments until 2003.

Starting in 2003, he began dialysis treatment five hours a day, three days a week.

“It was a very difficult life,” Weightman said.

But through his time at Northwest Kidney Centers, he also began volunteering and helping others with education about kidney disease, including early testing and what those diagnosed can do to prolong the life of their kidney.

“Kidney disease is very sneaky,” Weightman said. “You kind of feel a little achey, you might come down with something, mild flu symptoms. They say now one in seven have it, but don’t realize it.”

Then on Nov. 18, 2007, Weightman celebrated his rebirth day: The day he received a new kidney.

It had taken months of tests, waiting on the transplant list and a few false alarms, but Weightman finally had his new kidney.

“Going through (the transplant) was very difficult,” Weightman said. “I was released and then 18 hours later, I was back in with a fever.”

His kidney also took 11 to start working, all the while Weightman was blowing up with fluids and had to go back on dialysis.

“My kidney wasn’t having any of it,” Weightman said. “He was a little shy at first, but he’s doing good now.”

Weightman just finished his first year of schooling at Highline Community College to be a medical assistant.

He’s gotten some more help from Northwest Kidney Centers with the $3,000 James W. Haviland Rehabilitation Scholarship.

But going back to school hasn’t always been easy for Weightman, who turns 44 next week.

“It’s a little different going to school after all these years,” he said.

“If I have one more snotty nosed kid open a door for me and call me sir, I am going to slap them,” he joked.

Weightman is hoping, once he finishes his schooling, to help other transplant patients. For Weightman, his dream job would be an advocate for organ donation.

“It may seem gruesome, but you can’t take it with you,” Weightman said. “It comes down to if you are willing to do it, don’t worry about age or physical condition, your donation will affect at least the person you are giving it to. It’s like throwing a pebble into a pond: It affects lives in a positive way.”

Learn more

One of the main jobs of the kidneys is to filter waste out of your blood. When your blood delivers nutrients to your body, chemical reactions in your cells occur that leave behind some materials your body does not need. The job of your kidneys is to filter that material out of your blood, all day, every day, according to the Northwest Kidney Centers.