Community Health Center Real Stories
After a year of living with chronic kidney disease and waiting for a transplant, Harrisburg father of three, Lukeman Harvey, is ready to get his life back. Lukeman began experiencing issues in June 2014 when he woke up in the middle of the night and was unable to breathe. At first, doctors believed that he had respiratory issues and heart failure, but after numerous tests, they discovered it was kidney failure, which was putting significant stress on his other organs. After being released from the hospital, Lukeman was faced with the grim prospect of undergoing dialysis for nearly 15 hours a week to stay alive.
A year ago, Lukeman was a healthy 37-year-old man. He’s married, with three young boys — Jackson, 11, Gabriel, 8, and Elias, 4. He played basketball and softball, and loved to wrestle and play outside with his children. He was a branch manager at a local bank, and life was good.
“My boys play kickball and baseball, and I have always played with them. Now, after 20 minutes, I have no energy for the rest of the day.” Lukeman said. “I just can’t keep up anymore. We used to wrestle all the time and have fun as a family. It’s tough to hear them laughing in the next room when I am too weak to participate.”
Currently, Lukeman is doing dialysis at home and is facing many of the challenges that come along with the life-sustaining treatment. He has cramping, swelling, pressure and often sleeps all day, due to exhaustion.
Despite his illness, Lukeman is optimistic. His wife and a fellow congregation member at his church have both been tested and are potential candidates to donate a kidney. His life-saving gift may arrive as soon as late summer or early fall.
Lukeman is one of more than 6,900 people waiting for a second chance at life in Gift of Life Donor Program’s region — eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. Every day in the United States, 21 people die while waiting. These statistics represent thousands of individuals, like Lukeman, who are sick and waiting.
He says, “Those who are waiting for a transplant are suffering quietly. If others understood the pain and exhaustion of this disease, I believe that they would register to be donors. I know people who have been waiting years for a kidney transplant. It’s a really tough place to be. I hope that everyone understands the positive impact that they can have by registering to be a donor.”