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His kidneys are failing fast. Pasco’s former police chief turns to Facebook for help

UW Medicine researchers study possible new treatments for kidney disease

30 million Americans have chronic kidney disease. In Seattle, UW Medicine researchers are now creating mini-kidneys in the lab to study possible new treatments for all kidney disease.
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30 million Americans have chronic kidney disease. In Seattle, UW Medicine researchers are now creating mini-kidneys in the lab to study possible new treatments for all kidney disease.

Bob Metzger knows his body is betraying him.

The former Pasco police chief ended a 44-year police career this year with slowly failing kidneys. He isn’t far from dialysis.

Metzger, 67, said it isn’t slowing him down — yet.

But with his kidneys working at 13 percent, Metzger is turning to the public he once served in the hope of finding someone who is both willing and compatible to donate a kidney.

He’s trying to get on a list of potential recipients of healthy kidneys from organ donors, but it could take years to find a suitable donor.

His doctors at Mercy Health Kidney Transplant Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., say he is a good candidate for the procedure.

“They have now encouraged me to reach out for help,” he wrote on Facebook. “While I realize that this is a large request, I also know people are generous and will give this some consideration.”

A long time coming

It was about 20 years ago when doctors spotted an unusually high amount of protein in Metzger’s urine. They figured out Metzger was suffering from chronic kidney disease.

The condition eventually shuts down a person’s kidneys. It affects 37 million adults in the United States.

Treatment can slow the condition, but not cure it. Eventually, anyone with the condition will end up getting dialysis, a multi-hour procedure, several days a week.

Metzger still walks four to five miles every morning. He said he believes God has a plan for him.

“I’m very upbeat about it. ... I don’t let it run my life,” he told the Herald from his new home in Florida. “I have a very strong faith, and I believe the Lord is watching out for me. ... I have a lot of friends that are lifting me up in prayer.”

He’s even OK about cutting back on protein, saying he’s lost weight. Metzger is limited to 62 grams of protein a day — about two cheeseburgers.

“I like the gyro from Arby’s but that’s 23 grams of protein. That would be most of my protein for the day,” he said. “It’s a matter of picking and choosing.”

A man as active as Metzger is recommended to eat several more grams of protein, according to a USDA protein calculator.

While he feels fine now, Metzger said he knows he will get sick.

He wanted to ask for help before his kidney function falls to 7 percent and he needs to go through dialysis four to five times a week.

Asking for help

Metzger said it took some time, thought and discussion with his wife before he turned to Facebook for help.

For all of its negatives, social media has the power to bring people together to solve a problem.

He said he wanted the message to be hopeful and to make people aware of what he was going through.

“I am asking if there is someone who might consider this, please pray on it,” he wrote on Facebook. “If you are not able to do this, I would ask for your prayers as I go through the process of determining what my future will be.”

People who want to be a kidney donor for Metzger can apply through Mercy Health at www.mercyhealth.com/Become-A-Donor.

Metzger’s insurance pays for all tests, travel and surgery, which would be done at Grand Rapids, Mich.

Donors normally spend two to three days in the hospital after their surgery and should expect to spend at least a week in town after leaving the hospital, according to Mercy Health.

The National Living Donor Assistance Center also offers financial help to people that want to donate while they are still alive.

A potential donor must be 18 to 65 years old. They can’t have kidney stones, kidney disease, high blood pressure, chronic pain or infection, cancer or a bleeding disorder.

Donors have to get checked out six months, a year and two years after the operation.

A donor for Metzger needs B- or O-type blood.

For more information about becoming a living donor through Mercy Health, call Andrea Beck-Lundskow at 616-685-5187.

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