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Zeeland man to receive life-saving kidney donation from friend

A man diagnosed with kidney failure who has been on dialysis for more than five years is set to receive a new kidney from a fellow friend.

ZEELAND, Mich. — A friendship that began at a startup church years ago will soon be helping a west Michigan man with a new kidney.

47-year-old Tim Gilbert has Type 1 diabetes. He has been depending on a combination of dialysis treatment and medication to keep himself healthy after being diagnosed with kidney failure. With treatment continuing for more than five years, Gilbert was at a breaking point.

“I was done,” Gilbert said. “(I was) sick of going to the doctors. I was going to the doctor to stay alive.”

The constant appointments took a toll on both his schedule and physical health.

But things began to take a turn for the better when Tim Scheerhorn, a friend he met years ago at a church startup, offered to be an advocate for Gilbert by joining him on his appointments with doctors.

“To hear a doctor say all the things that he's been saying, it's just a different perspective,” Scheerhorn said. “It just really hit home to me, and it's like, he has no chance, right? If nobody steps in, he'll have no chance.”

Scheerhorn quickly decided to sign up for a kidney cross-donation plan so that Gilbert may be able to be paired up with matching kidney faster.

To his surprise, he later realized that he was actually the perfect match.

Something that pushed him to act, Scheerhorn said, was the fact that living donated kidneys have a significantly longer lifespan.

In order to move forward with the procedure, Scheerhorn has had to make some lifestyle changes to his health. Though it took some effort and sacrifice – including dropping his beloved Mountain Dew – Scheerhorn said telling Gilbert that the procedure was ago was priceless.

“I felt like a billionaire at that moment,” Scheerhorn said. “It was an amazing feeling to say that to him.”

Gilbert, who was once at the brink of giving up on life, now sees it through a new lens and is hopeful to get back to a normal life and return to work.

“The light at the end of the tunnel – I can see it,” he said. “I’ve been in the dark for so long.”

The procedure is set for Oct. 24. A GoFundMe campaign has been created to offset medical expenses. More info can be found here.

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