FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio — A little more than a year ago, Keli Thorn, who has suffered from polycystic kidney disease for years, underwent surgery to remove both of her kidneys.
“That was pretty scary for me, I have to say, because I’m like, OK you’re going to take out my kidneys, but then what happens,” Thorn said.
It wasn’t just scary for her. But for her husband Aaron as well.
But Aaron didn’t let his fear stop him from creating a sign and going out in his neighborhood to help find a donor for his wife.
“I vividly remember that morning because I had just had surgery, brain surgery and I was just scared,” Aaron said.
But his fear quickly subsided when he received support from the community.
“From there, we started a Facebook group page. We started posting in the local Fairfield Township Facebook group and it just started growing and growing,” he said.
It was through this initiative he found a donor for his wife. And he was also able to help many others like Cathi Collwell, who lives hundreds of miles away, and whose husband, Dave, needed a donor.
“I thought, 'Wow we’re in Butler County, what a coincidence,'” Collwell said. “And then I realized that she was in Ohio and we were in Pennsylvania and we kind of just kicked off talking from there.”
Collwell said Aaron really helped her through the process.
“He started listing the things that he was going through as a spouse supporting a loved one and watching them go through it and I just started to cry because I could finally connect with somebody who knew everything that we were both going through,” she said.
A couple of months ago, the couple found out their niece is a potential donor. He’s hoping to have his surgery within the next couple of months.
“It has, like Cathi said, (been) a long road,” Dave said. “With my niece, she’s been wonderful as a potential donor. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
Aaron said he’s looking to help even more people like Dave after his wife’s surgery on Feb. 2.
“We want to help other people because I think in this life when you’ve been given such a blessing we want to give it back to the community,” Aaron said.
If you would like to donate, visit kidneyforkeli.com.