Debbie  and Scott Nininger

MECHANICSVILLE – Debbie Nininger is desperate – her husband Scott needs a kidney transplant, so she took to the social networking service Nextdoor in her quest to locate a donor.

Her email, which reached 45 neighborhoods in the Mechanicsville area, read: “I know that this forum is used for neighbors reaching out to one another. This being the case, I thought I might take a chance and see if I could get some help with outreach. My husband, Scott Nininger, is in need of a kidney transplant. If anyone would consider helping, please message me. If anyone has any ideas as to how to get this message out, again, please message me. Thank you in advance for any assistance. We really need some help soon. This is what I posted on Facebook with all the information, thank you for taking time to read my post. I am trying daily to find a kidney for my husband, Scott Nininger. (He is an O+, but any blood type can be used through cross-pairing). I do not know if anyone has come forward to look into the possibility, but, if anyone has, thank you so very much. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. You can message me or call me at (804) 432-2558.”

She also welcomed any suggestions as to how she could find a living kidney donor. She said she planned to continue to post her contact information “in hopes of finding help, but I am open to any ideas.”

Anyone interested in helping Scott is urged to go to the website, https://henricodoctors.com/service/transplant-services. To learn about eligibility and qualifications, visit www.henricodoctors.com/signmeup.

Debbie said potential donors also may call Melissa Van-Syckle at 804-289-4941.

“We will be meeting with the doctor again soon to see where we stand in regards to dialysis. I pray that we will not have to go that route. Please, please help” was how Debbie wrapped up her email plea.

According to the website, www.Henricodoctors.com, “Living kidney donations have been performed successfully, safely and routinely for decades. At our transplant center, kidneys are removed from living donors using minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, which allows for a faster, less painful recovery. Additionally, a transplant coordinator guides our living donors through the entire process, from evaluation through surgery and follow-up.”

Twenty-one years ago, Debbie donated a kidney to Scott. When they learned he needed a transplant, they were not aware of any medical issue that put Scott on the path to need a kidney.

“He went in for a biopsy and was told there was severe scarring and the doctors were uncertain as to what caused the loss of the kidney. We were told that it was possibly an undetected/untreated strain of strep as a child, but really they do not know for sure,” Debbie said.

Scott started having issues with his blood pressure in December 1997. Physicians prescribed medication, but, Debbie continued, it didn’t lower his blood pressure.

“He told his doctor he wanted blood work because something didn’t seem right. He was informed when the results came in that his kidney was failing. His creatine was at 12.5 and normal is around 1,” she said.

In January 1998, Scott and Debbie were told that he would need to start dialysis. That was when they decided to pursue a transplant.

“His parents, his brother and I were tested,” Debbie said. “I was the only blood match, I am an O-, Scott is an O+. At that time our daughter [Haley] was 2 years old, and it was scary to think of both of her parents being in surgery at the same time but we went forward. God blessed us with a successful transplant-- at least for 21 years.”

As they find themselves once again searching for a match, Debbie said “the immunosuppressive drugs that keep the organ from rejecting can actually work on the kidney over time.”

“Due to Scott being a compliant patient and striving to do everything he could to stay healthy, eat properly and exercise, he was able to have a long run with the kidney,” Debbie said, adding that it’s “never long enough.”

“I naively never knew there was an end game to the kidney I just thought once it was done he would never have to do this again. Needless to say, a lot of tears have flowed,” she said.

Since that initial Nextdoor email, Debbie said she has received “a lot of shares of my post and many prayers. I did have one person contact me and say they wanted to be a donor. I only pray that this happens and for that person to know how grateful I am for the possibility.”

In addition to using Nextdoor, Debbie has repeatedly posted on Facebook as the search continues for a donor. “I am also going to try to call the National Kidney Foundation to see if they can help. I welcome any suggestions.”

While she has primarily been dealing with Henrico Doctors Hospital, Debbie said she will be contacting UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing).

Scott’s need is ever-increasing, as his kidney function has fallen to less than 10%.

“The kidney donation process has been greatly improved since I donated my kidney,” Debbie said. “I encourage you to visit the Henrico Doctors Hospital living donor site at www.Henricodoctors.com to learn more.”

She said the site explains “Most people are born with two healthy kidneys but only need one to function normally. A healthy person may choose to undergo surgery to donate a kidney to someone in need. This act is known as a living kidney donation.”

The site also said: “Sometimes a willing kidney donor is unable to give their kidney to a specific recipient, such as a friend or relative, due to incompatible blood types. When that happens, we find another donor-recipient pair in the same situation and ‘swap’ kidneys between the pairs. This is called a paired exchange kidney transplant. Virginia Transplant Center has more than five times the paired exchange kidney transplant experience than any other transplant center in Virginia.”

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