Two Sacramento County law enforcement officers said they have built a relationship akin to brotherhood after one donated his kidney to save the other’s life late last month. They spoke to media Thursday afternoon and emotionally recounted how their lives crossed paths.
Sacramento County sheriff’s Deputy Nathan Wise received lab results in August 2015 indicating his kidneys were beginning to fail. A 25-year veteran of the department, Wise had been diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension – which affect the kidneys – years before.
He tried dialysis treatments but felt they weren’t effective. They also took a heavy toll on his body, leaving him exhausted and nauseated after every session.
“I was miserable,” Wise said.
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Wise and his doctors explored the option of seeking a kidney transplant a few months later, though the question of who would be willing to donate a kidney remained. Even more, Wise said he was hesitant to seek help from family and friends.
“It was hard,” Wise said. “When you need a kidney, how do you ask?”
Folsom police Sgt. Eric Baade, who has worked at the police station for 13 years, said he first heard about Wise’s story in January after seeing a Facebook post written by Wise’s wife.
“I contacted them. I sent a message to her saying, ‘Hey, I want to help,’ ” Baade said.
Baade had seen the impacts of kidney failure nearly nine years ago when his wife, who was pregnant at the time, experienced the condition. He said she would spend hours a day, five days a week, receiving dialysis treatments that would leave her exhausted and unable to function normally.
He was inspired to donate a kidney after the Folsom police chief helped find a kidney donor for his wife years before. The chief sent out a call for people interested in donating a kidney through the California Police Chiefs Association, and someone at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department replied.
“It came back to our backyard, to the Sheriff’s Department,” Baade said. “Someone in the Sheriff’s Department was willing to donate.”
Following weeks of emailing back and forth, Wise, Baade and their families finally met. Later, after contacting UC Davis Medical Center, the two realized they had the same blood type.
“Without having a live donor and not having a match, it could have been three years,” Wise said about the process of finding a kidney. “It’s unbelievable that (Baade) was a match.”
They learned they had more in common than blood type. Wise and Baade both had mutual friends and had grown up in the same area, though their paths had never crossed before.
“Same blood type. Same ages. I was shocked,” Wise said.
“Eric saved my life,” Wise added. “He’ll always be my brother.”
Wise and Baade went into surgery June 27 and are now recovering. Wise said he will have to wait about 6 months until he knows whether his body will accept or reject the kidney transplant.
Baade said he hopes his experience as an organ donor will inspire others to donate.
“It’s very easy,” Baade said. “Especially for a living donation, there is some pain, some recovery. There’s some risks. But I think the benefits for what you can do for the family far outweigh the risks.”