'Tis The Season of Giving: A Gift Of Life

December 22, 2022

'Tis The Season of Giving: A Gift Of Life

A kidney from Atlanta.

When our trademark attorney, Zach Eyster, found out he could save a life, he didn’t waste a minute getting to it.

Here at Bee, when we hire, we’re always on the lookout for real-life heroes, the kind of people who put their hearts and guts into what they do. People with true grit. That’s why it was not a complete surprise when we learned that our trademark attorney, Partner Zach Eyster, of Founders Legal, donated one of his kidneys to a complete stranger.

It’s not as common as you may think—in fact only a couple hundred people a year do it that way, worldwide. 

For Zach, the second he found out it was a possibility, he committed. Or, as he told us, “You can’t un-know it once you know it.” 

He’d heard of kidney donation before, of course. His father had a friend who had received a kidney from a living donor about ten years ago so the seed was planted. 

Years later, when Zach understood that he could donate his kidney to a stranger, he knew he had to try. Athletic and fit, Zach is blood type O-negative blood and he also happens to be negative for certain antibodies—it’s a rare combo that made him the perfect candidate. Around June of 2021 he fearlessly started the process, which took about 6 months to complete.

First, he filled out the questionnaire at Piedmont Transplant Center in Atlanta and quickly learned that they received unusable intakes—mostly from folks that are looking to give a kidney on a family member’s behalf. 

It’s not a simple process. Doctors are committed to only taking kidneys from those who absolutely don’t need them, after a rigorous health screening. First, Zach had to complete two 24-hour urine collections, and monitor blood pressure day to day and minute to minute. He’d had a kidney stone years ago when he wasn’t hydrating well, but luckily it turned out that he wasn’t susceptible for further stones. 

"By the way," he told us, "passing a kidney stone is way worse than donating a kidney!"

The way kidney donation works is a little like a game of hot potato. Paired donors need to get matched to the right receivers, and it’s all done algorithmically. An altruistic donor like Zach can make it all happen, above and beyond his own donation—especially when someone doesn’t have a suitable match. 

Here’s how it worked: His kidney went to a wonderful, grateful woman named Sandra in Rochester. Her husband had come forward to donate on her behalf, but they didn’t have the right match, so his kidney went to someone in Minnesota, at the university. That recipient’s family member donated to someone in Los Angeles, whose family member donated a kidney to someone in Mayo, Florida, and that person’s family member gave a kidney to someone at UPMC, Harrisburg, PA. 

Don’t worry, you won’t be tested, but the long and short of it is that five people received kidneys, and five people gave. Zach closed the loop.  

Zach told us that there are three big misconceptions that keep people from donating. 

First, they think it will hurt. Zach says, “You can’t sugarcoat it, it hurts a bit, but personally I think the pain is overblown.” He took three tramadol before switching to Tylenol. After 72 hours, it was all good. Within six weeks, he was back to his full exercise regiment. 

The second big misconception is that people think it will affect long-term quality of life. As a kidney donor athlete, Zach is living proof that this is untrue. He does the kind of exercise most of us could never get up to with any amount of kidneys—his next big run is in the Marine Corps Marathon in October. 

Third, many fear that giving a kidney will take time off their lives. Zach says that this is not really possible, since you have to be in pristine health to give a kidney. “Anyway,” he says, if I make it to 92 instead of 94, I don’t know if I’d consider that a bad deal.” 

Zach’s act of heroism has inspired a local community as well as KEYC of North Mankato, Minnesota covered the moment he was able to meet the recipient for the first time. 

Here at Bee, we’re utterly inspired, not just by Zach’s courage and what he has done, but by his attitude about it. His motivation is something we can all aspire to. “It’s not every day you get to brag about your attorney about something like this,” said Bee Co-founder & CEO Curtis Wood. “This is the guy you want litigating for you and representing you with his character. We are very proud to work with him, far past the outstanding legal work he does.” 

Zach has continued his commitment to encouraging others to do the same by serving on the board of directors for the Kidney Donor Athletes, a non-profit dedicated to promoting the gift of life through living kidney donation among active individuals and athletes. 

Zach Eyster's KDA Board Profile

”I didn’t join the Army or Navy,” he says. “I’m not a firefighter, I’m a trademark lawyer. My work isn’t exactly a matter of life and death. This is the only way I’ll never be able to save someone’s life.”

Originally published by Bee Mortgage App

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