Steve Peterson of Boardman has a good understanding what the word friendship is all about. It means standing by someone in their time of need and never giving up.
Peterson's story goes back to his birth when doctors discovered a defect on one kidney. He managed to get through school and while in high school had surgeries on both kidneys.
"Forty-five years later and my last kidney failed," Peterson said.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
What are friends for? Steve Peterson of Boardman knows the answer. His best friend Ken Yates gives up his mornings to help his friend live a more active lifestyle thanks to technology.
Realizing the need for a kidney transplant, Peterson said his 18-year-old son Jeremy was found to be a good match and arrangements were made to donate one of his healthy kidneys to his father. The operation was done 15 years ago at Ohio State University. Since that time he has been on anti-rejection drugs.
Last year, the chemicals in his body were getting worse and it was discovered that his transplanted kidney was also failing. He was placed on the transplant list for both Ohio State and the Cleveland Clinic. In the meantime, he would have to go on dialysis to stay alive during his wait.
Peterson had been on dialysis before. He worked as a die finisher full time and recalls taking close to four hours, three times a week, to head to a center for dialysis. He said it was a challenge to work full time with overtime while doing the dialysis.
"Now I am back on dialysis, but at home instead," he said.
That was all possible thanks to new technology. He found out about a new state-of-the-art home dialysis machine called the the NxStage System One. The device is the size of a big television and can easily fit into any home environment.
When he and his wife Lucy were invited to take the training for one of the units, he asked his best friend of 20 years, Ken Yates, to come along. They went to the Center for Dialysis Care in Youngstown where they discovered one possible problem. Lucy still worked and couldn't be home every morning to assist with the dialysis. That is when Yates stepped up and agreed to taking the training also to fill in the gaps.
"I'm retired, so I took the training," Yates said. "It gets me out of the house in the mornings."
Ken's real reason was to help his friend in a time of need. While the training was a bit intimidating at first, Yates said he got used to it.
Now, instead of heading to the hospital for a three-plus hour session, Peterson wakes in the morning and either Lucy or Ken are there to help him with a two-hour hook-up that keeps him going. Yates said it is really easy and the machine won't let him make a mistake.
"The machine won't let me do anything wrong," Yates said. "If it senses air in the line or clotting, it will shut down."
Another great feature is the fact that Peterson can take dialysis every day. That means the poisons building up in his system are flushed out every morning. When he had to travel for dialysis, he could only do so three times a week. With a day or two in between, he found himself growing weak and tired. After the dialysis he was feeling active and happy.
"By doing it every day, it helps keeps his blood makeup even," Yates said.
Peterson said it is also better than the hospital in that he gets to share a few hours with his best friend, something that Yates agrees to also.
Thanks to technology and true friendship, Peterson is living a happier life every day while waiting for a transplant.