Kovatch is the match

Published 9:11 am Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Editorial by Chris Kovatch

Well over 7 years ago, my father in law, Ken Thayer, began to experience a decline in his health. He began to undergo a series of tests to try to diagnose the root cause of his health issues. Initially he was told his kidneys were failing and that he would need a transplant. He began dialysis immediately. In reality his kidneys were failing, but the culprit was something that was extremely rare and only affected a handful of individuals across the US. The medical diagnosis was Light Chain Deposition Disease. Normally, this disease is seen in patients with Multiple Myeloma, however Ken did not have that disease. The disease affects organs and begins hardening the walls and significantly reducing their ability to function. The disease is attacked by utilizing a stem cell transplant in addition to several other treatments. Ken did succumb to the disease after a courageous battle. After he passed, we located notes he had made during the diagnosis and treatment process. He knew his odds were not good and he knew that the disease had begun to affect other organs, but he kept his trademark smile on his face through it all.

During this time it was hard to sit by and just watch. We constantly looked for ways to help whether it be managing the studio operations, helping out around the house, or researching different treatment options. In the end, Ken ended up in a hospital in Little Rock, AR founded by Sam Walton of Wal-Mart fame. Any one who knew Ken was well aware of his thoughts on Wal-Mart and the irony that presented itself in this situation was not lost on Ken.

While undergoing treatment, one option was discussed, that would allow a person to donate bone marrow to him. Large numbers of his family and friends requested testing kits from an organization called Be The Match. In the end, this treatment option wasn’t utilized and his own stem cells were harvested, ‘cleaned’ and reintroduced to his body.

Each year, Christi and I receive emails requesting us to reaffirm our commitment to be a donor, yet we never receive a call. Fast forward to a few months ago. Christi received word that she was a potential match and additional testing needed to be done. She followed through with the testing and the wait began. Last week she received word that she was the closest match available.

Talk about a surprise! She immediately began to research what is involved in the harvesting of the needed bone marrow and what it entailed. In a few weeks, she must begin receiving injections to boost her production of bone marrow leading up to the actual date of her donation. The donation itself is done much like blood donation, but the side effects can leave you feeling a bit under the weather for a few days. She quickly scheduled all of the necessary appointments without a second thought.

Does it affect our life? Yes. Will it make her feel bad? Yes. Will she help save someone’s life? Absolutely. We had hoped that someone would be able to step up and help Ken out, but his treatment didn’t go that way. How awesome is it that we have the ability to potentially save someone else’s life that we don’t even know? Christi and I were talking the other evening about the process and how it’s a little bit unnerving not knowing entirely what to expect. Then we shifted our thoughts to a lady in Great Britain who is looking forward to the end of July when her life might change forever. A little uneasiness is totally worth the impact that she will have on someone else.

I urge everyone to visit BeTheMatch.org and request a testing kit. A simple swab of the inside of your mouth and a bit of personal information could be someone’s key to a long healthy life. It’s that simple.

Christi also plans to document the process from start to finish and we will share more about it as the journey continues.