Jim Kimberlin has finally met his match. And it turned out to be someone he's known for 11 years.
Next week Kimberlin will travel to Cleveland Clinic, where he will receive a kidney donated by Jack Kuhlman, a co-worker at CertainTeed.
Kimberlin's journey began in 1994 when he found out he had polycystic kidney disease, a hereditary disease that causes cysts to form in the kidneys. As his kidneys filled with cysts, they became enlarged and their function decreased. Kimberlin began dialysis in July 2006.
It was only a matter of time before his kidneys would be completely useless, so Kimberlin was placed on an organ transplant list at Cleveland Clinic more than two years ago. He also began looking for a live donor.
"No one in my family came forward because it's a hereditary disease, and (family is) where most people get their donors," Kimberlin said.
Kimberlin went through highs and lows of seeking a donor. After months of not finding one, a match was found -- and then that person was unable to donate.
Unbeknownst to Kimberlin, Kuhlman called Cleveland Clinic to see if he was a match.
"He had had the notices up for a little while, and I knew that he was sick, but I still had to work up the nerve," Kuhlman said. "I kind of put it off and put it off because of nerves."
While waiting in line at Cedar Point nearly two months later, Kuhlman got the call: He could be the one to save Kimberlin's life.
"I felt a little of every emotion wrapped into one. I was nervous, cautious, excited. I guess I can't describe the way I felt," Kuhlman said.
Being a match does not necessarily mean a person can donate, so Kuhlman still had to go through extensive donor testing including a physical, CAT scans and ultrasounds. After multiple visits to Cleveland Clinic, Kuhlman found out he could donate his kidney. He told Kimberlin one day at work.
"I just walked up to him and didn't really know how to tell him, I guess," Kuhlman said. "I asked him if he knew a lot about the clinic. I said I have to go up there in January and asked if he would go with me. He said 'yeah,' and asked what was wrong. I said I had to go up there to donate a kidney."
Kimberlin said there aren't words to describe his gratitude.
"There's just nothing I can say ..." Kimberlin trailed off as his eyes welled up with tears. He said Kulhman is not only saving his life, but also his family.
In preparation for the Jan. 18 transplant, Kimberlin's kidneys have been removed. A normal kidney weighs between 3-5 ounces, but Kimberlin's weighed about 10 pounds each because of all the cysts. He has dialysis three times a week for four hours.
"Now that I don't have kidneys, it's just wiping me out quite a bit," Kimberlin said.
The procedure will keep Kuhlman out of work for at least a month and Kimberlin out of work for a few months.
A Rigatoni benefit to raise money for Kuhlman and Kimberlin will be 4-7 p.m. Saturday at VFW Post 2529, 604 W. Perkins Ave., Sandusky. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students and free for children younger than 5. The event will include live music, a bake sale, raffles, silent auction and a cash bar.
Donations can also be made to Vacationland Credit Union, 2409 E. Perkins Ave., or 2911 S. Hayes Ave., Sandusky, OH 44870. Checks should be made payable to Linda Johnston, treasurer, and earmarked for Jim and Jack benefit.
What: Rigatoni Benefit for Jim Kimberlin and Jack Kuhlman
When: 4-7 p.m. Saturday
Where: VFW Post 2529, 604 W. Perkins Ave., Sandusky
Tickets: $7 for adults, $5 for students, free for children younger than 5
Donations: Accepted at Vacationland Credit Union, 2409 E. Perkins Ave., or 2911 S. Hayes Ave., Sandusky, OH 44870. Checks should be made to Linda Johnston, treasurer, and earmarked for Jim and Jack benefit