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Bothell man survives kidney transplants, works to educate others
When Karen Kringle met her husband Stephen Kringle at Inglemoor High School, she knew he was someone special.
"I decided he was a keeper," she said.
After 33 years of marriage and raising their daughters, an unfortunate event brought the couple closer than ever. Last August, Stephen received a new kidney after spending 17 months on dialysis when his shut down. With his wife Karen by his side, he managed to continue to work full time as a computer technician, even while on dialysis.
"It causes you to appreciate each day you have together," Karen said. "We make sure to spend more time together doing fun things like going on adventures, getting new hobbies and doing healthy activities."
Now, with his new kidney, he’s celebrating National Kidney Month and has joined the University of Washington Medical Center’s training program, Team Transplant, to walk with the team in the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in June. Stephan wants to spread the word that living with kidney disease is possible.
"I believe that adapting a healthy lifestyle contributed greatly to why I healed so well," Stephen said. "There are many things you can do to ensure you have a speedy recovering and feel alright during the treatment process."
Stephen and Karen took daily walks during Stephen's dialysis treatment and continue to stay active. Besides the race, they hike, birdwatch and maintain a healthy diet.
"We didn't realize how essential it was to watch what you eat," Karen said. "We decided to buy organic products, make sure we washed our hands before we cooked, no matter what, and just take little steps to make sure everything we put into our mouths was clean and full of good nutrients."
Karen contributes her focus to health and recovery to making the healing process less stressful for her and Stephen during his dialysis. Karen and Stephen solicited help from Northwest Kidney Centers to administer dialysis at their home.
"Life was so busy that we didn't have the time to sit around and twiddle or thumbs while we waited for a kidney," she said. "We took it day by day."
Stephen waited three years to get a call that there was a kidney waiting for him.
"They called about six times, but each time something happened and I ended up not going into surgery for a new kidney that day," he said. "And the last call I got; it was a two-day hospital wait before I went in for surgery."
After only ten weeks of recovery, Stephen said he was out doing a 7-mile hike with Karen.
"We just went right back at it," Karen said. "He felt better and we were ready to get our lives back."
The couple entered the race this year in hopes they could help others going through treatment for kidney failure. They also want to educate the public about the disease.
"We heard from doctors that many people have this and don't even know it," Karen said. "Our goal is to raise awareness of it and encourage people to become organ donors."
For more information on Karen and Stephen's group, Team Transplant, visit www.uwteamtransplant.com.