Facebook connects man to potential kidney donor

Facebook connects man to potential kidney donor
Paul Stratton and wife looking at Trista Aikin's Facebook page
Paul Stratton and wife looking at Trista Aikin's Facebook page

TEXARKANA, AR (KSLA) - In a quaint home in the small rural town of Genoa, Arkansas, Paul Stratton lives a seemingly normal life.

The stepfather of four children, two sets of twins and 5 Grandchildren, the 51 year old spends his days as a custodian.

When he's not on the job, he's with his other 13 four legged children.

Paul and his wife Andy Stratton own four cats, five ponies and four dogs, three of them Golden Retrievers trained to conduct Search and Rescue Missions.

For six years, Paul has volunteered with the Bowie County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team.

Showing off his poison ivy bruises from his last search and rescue mission he says it is hard work, filled with blood, sweat and tears, rewarding but strenuous work for a man who has suffered with a kidney disease his entire life.

The New York native found he had kidney problems at the age of 16, but he wouldn't find out why for another 35 years.

FSGS, short for Focal Segmental Glomerular Sclerosis is one of the most common causes of kidney failure in adults and children.

For ten years, Paul received basic treatment for the disease, but in 2012, doctors said he was at the end stages and was now experiencing kidney failure.

He would start Hemodialysis a short time after.

"With Hemo, you're stuck to a chair for 4 to 5 hours," says Paul, "God so I hated it, you'd cramp and your blood pressure would bottom out."

Paul now does peritoneal dialysis at home. While he isn't confined to a chair for hours, it can still take a toll on his daily schedule.

He hooks up to a "cycler" by 7:30 pm and remains hooked up for 9 hours, waking up at 4:30am to un-hook and prepare for his day.

With an urge to get back to some sense of normalcy, Paul turned to social media looking for answers.

"I started out on a site called Kidney Central and this woman had received or gave a kidney to someone else. Searching on Facebook I found another site which is this woman named Susan Clause, she is a kidney recipient and wanted to help others, says Paul."

But he quickly learned there is a dark side to the online search for a new kidney.

"They'll say, I'll donate a kidney, give me $5,000 or get me into the country."

So he started his own Facebook page, "A Kidney for Paul Stratton" and found a glimmer of hope.

Trista Aikin reached out to Paul after seeing his story on the social media site.

She also lives in the Texarkana area and has experienced her own bout with Kidney Disease.

"My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer she was 44 years old when we lost her and she had her cancer for 8 years and the Chemo caused her to have kidney failure," says Trista,

"If it had been Mom in this position and I wouldn't have been a match for her than I would want someone else to step up for her and donate for her."

Dr. Kenneth Apreo of LSU Health Sciences Center says there are roughly 500-600 thousand patients on Dialysis that number far exceeds the number of patients who are dying and have to donate.

He says a kidney transplant can be your best option when it comes to Paul's condition, but sometimes the availability just isn't there.

"The number of patients waiting for a transplant patient is far larger than the number of kidneys we're getting," said Dr. Apreo.

For now we wait, to see if this stranger, connected by Facebook, will be Paul's answer to a second chance at life.

Paul is now preparing for a 6 week visit to Dallas, TX for his annual evaluation to remain on the Kidney Transplant list.

Paul and his wife Andy have set up a fundraiser page to help with medical expenses and to recover the funds he will have lost during this unpaid leave.

Paul's potential donor, Trista, is now in the process of finding out if she is a perfect match. To find out if you can be a match for Paul you can visit his Facebook page or his Living Donor Search Page.

We will update you on both of their progress.

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