By SHANNON TAYLOR
OBSERVER Staff Writer
The Eimers family will stop at nothing to help save Roger Eimers Jr. from kidney failure.
Daniel Eimers (left) is giving his kidney to his brother, Roger Eimers Jr.
Roger will receive a kidney transplant from his younger brother Daniel on Monday, June 18 at Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo. This will be Roger's second kidney transplant.
"I would do whatever it takes to help my brother," said Daniel.
Roger is the son of Pastor Roger and Wendy Eimers and has seven siblings. With his wife Laurie, he has two children, Rebekah and Joshua. Roger is the owner and operator of RebaJosh Trucking.
Roger has been suffering from kidney problems since birth.
"He had a birth defect," Daniel said. "His ureters were in the wrong position - upside down. Every time urine would empty into his bladder, it would back up into his kidneys."
Before that, doctors and specialists could only determine that he had a nearly continuous fever and constantly got urinary tract infections.
"Our mom pushed the doctors to look into it further and was able to have scans done. They discovered the problem, and he had surgery to have his ureters corrected. But he already had too much damage to his kidneys," Daniel said.
Roger wasn't diagnosed with kidney disease until he was 7 years old. His left kidney failed and had to be removed. The right kidney only functioned at 10 percent normal capacity.
The kidneys eliminate toxins from the blood, so when they do not work properly, those impurities remain in the blood. Roger had to perform kidney dialysis on himself three times a day as a child in order to keep himself alive. He also had to have additional treatments at St. Vincent's Hospital in Erie, Pa., every six weeks.
"He had medicine and machines in his room but he worked and lived a normal life. My parents tried their best to say, 'You've got this disease, but don't let it destroy your life.' It was present at all times but my family and he just accepted it and moved on," Daniel said.
During his childhood, Roger had five surgeries before having a kidney transplant in 1990 at the age of 21. At that time, his sister Laurie, then 22 years old, donated her kidney.
"I am so grateful for what my sister did for me, and I was glad to be over with it," Roger said.
Now, 22 years later, his kidney is failing again. His kidney function has become too low, and he has already had another surgery and has begun peritoneal dialysis.
Roger's brothers and sisters volunteered to be tested to become a kidney donor. Daniel was a perfect match.
Roger is very grateful to his family.
"How can you put it into words how thankful you are? I am very fortunate to have brothers and sisters who will do that."
Roger's father expresses his gratitude to his family and his concern for his sons.
"Twenty-two years ago when our daughter Laurie donated a kidney to Roger, we just assumed that the transplant would last forever," Pastor Eimers said. "Last year when Roger's kidney began to fail, we were thankful that our six other children offered a kidney. We were grateful when Daniel was a perfect match. Now we are praying and trusting the Lord that both surgeries will be successful. It is difficult to have two children undergoing surgery at the same time. We appreciate everyone's prayers for our sons and our family."
Daniel lives in Chattanooga, Tenn., and will have to come to Fredonia a week before the surgery.
The transplant procedure will require both Roger and Daniel to be put to sleep at the same time. Daniel's surgery will be first. The surgeon will make a four-inch incision just below his rib cage and will then have to cut all veins going into the kidney. They will start prepping Roger when Daniel's surgery is almost complete. A whole other team will transplant the kidney into Roger, connecting the renal artery and vein. It should start working immediately.
Within two or three days, Roger will be back to full kidney function. Both Daniel and Roger will be hospitalized for four or five days following their surgeries. Then the family will remain in the area for another three to four weeks. Roger will recover at home for two months before he can return to work.
"I'm anxious to get the surgery over with because I've been doing dialysis since December," Roger said. "As a kid, I had so many surgeries, so I'm not really worried about it. I just want to get back to my life."
Roger would like others to know that it is possible to donate a kidney.
"They have exchanges now where you can donate to people you don't know. That is something people might want to think about. It makes a big difference in someone else's life."
The cost of the surgery is covered by insurance, and Daniel has received assistance from the National Living Donor Assistance Center for his travel to New York for the transplant. Other expenses, such as lost wages, will not be covered, so Roger's family has set up the Eimers Kidney Transplant Fund. Donations can be mailed to Eimers Kidney Transplant Fund, c/o Lake Shore Savings Bank, 128 E. Fourth St., Dunkirk, NY 14048.
"At Christmas Roger was out of work when he got really sick," Daniel said. "He was unable to drive so he lost a lot of wages from that. It is really tough driving a truck with all the kidney problems. Roger will be out of work and lose wages for seven to eight weeks. He is really modest about asking for help. We do not want people to think we are asking for anything special. We mostly want people's prayers and moral support."
For more information, call 410-0134 or 410-2423.