Saturday , May 25 2024

Fresno Man Has Second Chance at Life With Life Saving Gift

A Fresno man has a second chance at life after receiving a much-needed organ donation. Ted Niemi, 44, had been diagnosed with stage-four liver disease a  year ago and was on a waiting list for an organ transplant.

"I was convinced that I had maybe a day left," Niemi said.

Niemi, a pastor, had made his peace with God and was resigned to the idea that he would die any day.

But just three weeks ago, he received a life-saving gift.

"It was within a matter of a day that I was going from literally dying to life, and that transition–it’s miraculous," Niemi said.

Niemi’s miracle came from 2,000 miles away in Minnesota. His fraternity brother Brad Einck had just died. It turns out, Brad and Ted were perfect matches.

Kristin Niemi received the unexpected call that saved her husband’s life.

"She had given me the news right then and said, brad’s wife Kim said she does wants to make the decision to save Ted’s life, and that’s when our wedding song started playing in the background."

That song: What a Wonderful World. And now, the Niemi’s say it is. They’ve received the gift of life and hope it’s a decision others will be inspired to make.

When Niemi was diagnosed, he had joined the more than 15,000 people in the U.S. who are waiting for a liver transplant. The odds were against him.

"Eighteen people every day in the United States pass away waiting on the list," said Marcella Corona, a community development liaison with the California Transplant Donor Network in Fresno.

The wait depends on the organ needed, but around the Central Valley, there are 1,487 people currently waiting for an organ transplant in Fresno, Madera and Tulare counties.

"One tissue donor can enhance the life of up to 50 people and one organ donor can enhance the lives, save the lives of up to 8 people each," Corona said.

The life saving gift Brad Einck made touched more than 60 lives in the U.S. Ted said he can’t express the amount of respect and gratitude he has for Kim and Brad.

"Brad is always going to be a part of me as long as I’m alive," Niemi said.

He has never met the wife of his fraternity brother, but Niemi said when he’s fully recovered, he plans to travel to Minnesota to personally thank Kim Einck for the life saving gift.

To learn more about organ donation, visit www.donatelifecalifornia.org.

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