Unexpected act of kindness changing the life of man in need of transplant
An unexpected act of kindness is about to change the life of an Evansville man in need of an organ transplant.
Thanks to social media, and a surprise donor, a transplant is coming much sooner than he and his family expected.
They say it's better to give than to receive, but for Mitch Petty and Charlie Bockelman, it feels pretty good both ways.
Because the gift, in this case, is changing both their lives.
In 2002, Mitch was diagnosed with an immune disorder called CVID. His body couldn't fight infections. Last fall, his health got worse.
"I came down with a type of rare type of pneumonia. It put me on a ventilator for 12 days and part of the damage was done to my kidneys. They just never recovered from the pneumonia," Mitch said.
A few months ago, Mitch was added to a kidney transplant list. He and his wife, Meredith, a supervisor in the Deaconess Hospital Pharmacy, prepared to wait.
But in the meantime, they created a Facebook page to share their story and neither expected what would happen next.
"It was a big, huge shock. Yes, a good one," Mitch said.
It came courtesy of Charlie Bockelman, one of Meredith's co-workers who'd actually helped mix Mitch's infusions in the past. He knew Mitch was on daily dialysis at home.
"I didn't know that he would be up for a transplant yet, but once I read that their goal was to improve their family life and his quality, quantity of life, to see his kids grow up and graduate and get married, that's when I decided that I should be tested," Charlie said.
Charlie was a perfect match, and the Petty's had no idea.
"I got a phone call. I didn't even think about the fact that the caller ID said Bockelman on it, but it was Charlie," Meredith said. "Then when he told me, I think I had at least five minutes of silence. He could have hung up for all I know, just in complete shock."
"It was amazing. Yes it was wonderful to be able to share that news," Charlie said.
"One of the greatest days of my life. I'll always remember that day and moment," Mitch said. "You can't explain. I always tell my daughter I want to see her get married and stuff like that, but when you think of not being able to do that, now I'm gonna be able to. So I'm just so grateful. That's all I can say."
Though he's never had surgery, Charlie says there's no second-guessing his decision. He's happy to help another family and another father.
"The kids are extremely proud of him. They tell him every day. It's pretty neat," said Jennifer Bockelman.
"I love my job. I want to stay doing that. I love my family. I want to get back to normal. So I'm very thankful," Mitch said.
The two men barely knew each other before, now their families are developing a friendship.
The big day is Monday. Both men have surgeries in Indianapolis that morning through Indiana University Health Hospital.
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