Blasingame’s birthday wish came true when he received a kidney from a donor at John Hopkins Hospital, meaning he no longer has to rely on dialysis treatments to survive. His transplant was performed on his 23rd birthday, March 1. Washington University surgeon Jason Wellen, MD, surgical director of kidney transplant at Barnes-Jewish Hospital performed the surgery.
“It has been a rollercoaster ride but my faith, family and friends have supported me through these difficult times,” says Blasingame.
Although Blasingame experienced a life-changing birthday, he had to pass on an opportunity in the fall to work as an intern at the St. Louis Rams training camp. He worked with the Rams over the summer, but problems with his kidney changed his plans.
In April 2008, Blasingame’s kidneys failed. His uncle, James, donated a kidney to him at that time. However, that kidney eventually failed, and Blasingame needed another transplant.
“When I originally got on dialysis this past time, I was hoping to get a transplant in December or January, but it didn’t happen,” says Blasingame. “I knew I didn’t want to be on dialysis on my birthday so it was a blessing from God that things happened the way they did.”
Another uncle, John, also offered to donate. But Blasingame had developed too many antibodies from his first transplant, and his Uncle John was not a good match. In return for Blasingame getting the kidney from Johns Hopkins, Uncle John will donate his kidney to another transplant candidate – either at Barnes-Jewish or another transplant center. Testing to find the best match for John’s kidney is currently underway.
But, thanks John’s willingness to donate to someone other than his nephew and to the generosity of a donor in Maryland, Blasingame will graduate in May from St. Louis University with a master’s degree in athletic training.
And though he will always have a special memory of his 23rd birthday, he plans to spend future birthdays with family and friends – and not in the hospital.