CANTON, Ohio (WJW) – A Canton father and daughter are raising awareness about the importance of organ donation on the eve of World Kidney Day on Thursday, March 9.
For the past 15 years, running marathons has been a way of life for 42-year-old Angela Hissner, of Canton.
But nearly two years ago, a family health emergency literally stopped her in her tracks.
“My dad used to always work on cars and I’d go outside as a little girl and sit in the car while he worked on the cars,” she said.
Angela’s hero, her father Dan Datkuliak, was diagnosed with stage 3 chronic kidney disease in his 50s.
When diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2021, his kidney function went from 45% to just 15%.
“I noticed more swelling in my feet, my legs and I had no energy,” he said.
The now 70-year-old would need a new kidney to avoid dialysis and began the transplant process at the Cleveland Clinic.
But he wouldn’t have to wait long for a donor. His own daughter Angela was an instant match.
The transplant surgery took place two years ago. Dr. Alvin Wee was the lead surgeon and says there are currently 90,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list.
“Despite that we do this major record number of transplants, there are still more people who need a kidney. If you’re healthy, you should be able to donate one of your kidneys and Angela is just a classic example,” said Dr. Wee.
“They put him on the list, but I said I’m going to get checked because I want to donate my kidney to you. Because I know how long it takes to wait for something like that and he didn’t have that time,” Angela said.
The surgery was a success.
Angela was worried that she would never be able to run again or the same as she did before, but within three weeks after surgery, Angela ran her first five miles.
Six months after that, she overcame another major hurdle.
“I ran another marathon because I was feeling so good. I was feeling so good about it, I did run another four hour marathon,” she said.
Last year, Angela ran in the Akron Marathon in honor of her dad, while raising $6,000 for a nonprofit group called “Kidney Donor Athletes” based out west.
They ate cake to mark their first transplant surgery anniversary and there will be cake again for year #2 on March 30.
Their father-daughter bond is now stronger than ever.