Nowak remembers kidney donation


Courtesy of Sharon Spinos

James Nowak and his cousin bonding.

Caroline Philbin, Reporter

Ten years ago, PHS math teacher James Nowak received a letter from his cousin who was in need of a kidney transplant.

“She had lived her entire life with just one kidney and when she was at a really young age she had one of her kidneys shut down,” Nowak said. “She lived most of her life with the one and was fine, but then that second one started to shut down.”

Nowak and his family received the letter after Thanksgiving break, 2007. Most of the family was unaware of her kidney issues, but the letter was sent out as a final act of desperation after having no luck in finding a match.

“When I got the letter I put myself into that situation,” Nowak said. “I just thought well, I have to do something.”

Nowak went to his cousin’s hospital to test for being a match. After going through some tests it was revealed that he would be a close enough match to where the doctors would be able to make the transplant happen.

“My immediate reaction was excitement, it was great news,” Nowak said. “But it was something I really had to think about, I needed to talk things over with my wife and family.”

Nowak and his cousin had been close, but as children they lived in different states. Going through the transplant made them closer.

“This was something I really wanted to do and that I needed to do and my family was very supportive of that,” Nowak said.

Nowak and Palatine High School student council run a blood drive every year.

“Anything we can do to help someone out is important,” Nowak said.

If you are interested in donating blood, the next blood drive will be held on Mar. 2, 2018.