Chris White and Drew Duszynski are two baseball fans you probably wouldn’t see sitting together at a baseball game. After all, White is a Cubs fan and Duszynski loves the Sox.
Besides the fact that neither has been alive long enough to see their team win a World Series, they do share one thing in common. And it’s a bigger deal than any crosstown transaction.
Last month, Drew, 5, received a kidney from White, 35. The procedure took place at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
Drew, who originally is from suburban Plainfield and now lives with his family outside Milwaukee, was diagnosed just after birth with autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. For the majority of his life, Drew has been sick and receiving treatment in one form or another.
“Drew has rolled with it as much as a 5-year-old can,” said Drew’s mother, Pam Schulz, who is also a pediatrician. “He loves sports and has wanted to play all of them since he was little.”
But often Drew’s energy level and endurance weren’t robust enough for basic play.
"He'd get frustrated playing kickball, not being fast enough to run," Schulz said. "Often, his friends would assign a base runner for him."
Meanwhile, daily regimens included taking up to six medications daily to battle symptoms most children and their parents don't think about, things such as high potassium and high phosphorous—both of which are deadly to kidney patients—and rising blood pressure.
In 2014, Drew's kidney function began to decline severely. By June 2015, he had both kidneys removed and thereafter received dialysis daily while he would sleep at night. Eventually the only course of action became finding a living adult donor.
Friends and family put the word out and arranged fundraisers while also setting up a Team Super Drew page on Facebook.
"We didn’t know Chris White, but I noticed he kept trying to friend us on Facebook," Schulz said.
White had gotten word about Drew from his wife, Amy, who learned about the boy's need from a college friend who was connected online and through personal relationships with a group called Will County Mothers of Twins Club.
Schulz said that by the time she had made contact with White, she learned he had been fully approved to donate medically. The Uptown resident also had his own personal motivation to assist.
"When I first started dating Amy, she was getting ready to donate to her dad," he said. "I remember after my wife donated to her father the miraculous recovery he went through."
So when hearing about the opportunity to help someone else, in this case a child who was approximately the same age as his son, Jack, "it was for me a no-brainer," White said.
"I first met Drew at a Bulls game two weeks before Dec. 14, our op [surgery] date," White said. He observed Drew as "just a 5-year-old. Active and a little rambunctious, he was talking up the players and keeping tabs of the Bulls' score, every second.”
After last month’s operation, White recovered quickly and was released from the hospital within days. He is at work and back to normal, save for the occasional midday nap.
The families stayed connected over the holidays. Drew’s family sent White and his family Cubs swag as a thank-you, doing so even though both Drew and his father, Don, are loyal Sox fans. Meanwhile, Drew’s mom and the White family are hoping for a World Series on the North Side in 2016.
“I hope that my donation might, at some point, set him straight and influence Drew’s choice in baseball teams," White said, joking.
Even if not, Drew has rebounded extremely well.
"It's hard to keep him down now," his mother said. "Drew’s got much more energy. And he’s eating like a truck driver."
HOW DO THEY DO IT?
A live kidney transplant is fairly straightforward as surgeries go, especially for donors. Once cleared by physicians, an operation date is set. During the procedure, surgeons make a small incision, approximately 4 inches wide, removing a kidney from the donor and implanting it into the recipient’s body.
While recipients are kept in the hospital up to a few weeks for monitoring and to recover from surgery wounds, donors suffer no health repercussions from parting with a kidney; one kidney is more than adequate to support a healthy adult.
More than 100,000
The number of people awaiting a kidney transplant in the U.S.
The median wait time for an individual's first kidney transplant in the U.S.
The number of kidney transplants that took place in the U.S. in 2014. Of those, 11,570 came from deceased donors, and 5,537 came from living donors.
The average number of people who die each day in the U.S. waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant.
Every 14 minutes, someone in the U.S. is added to the kidney transplant list.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Andy Frye is a RedEye contributor. @mysportscomplex