The beloved school resource officer has needed a kidney transplant for the last three years, but most people who interact with him every day probably don’t know it.
“He’s always been very quiet,” said Alexis Williams.
Alexis is talking about her older brother Bob Rummell, a school resource officer for the Greater Latrobe School District and a former Latrobe Police Department Sergeant.
For three years, Bob was one of nearly 100,000 Americans waiting for a kidney transplant after being diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease.
Before being put on the waiting list, Bob retired after 29 and a half years with the Latrobe Police Department. In addition to his duties as a midnight sergeant, Bob was also a juvenile cop working with children in contact with law enforcement.
According to Latrobe Police Department Community Service Officer Beth Straka, Bob was a quiet man even when he was a sergeant. She has been friends with Bob since he was hired twelve years before her.
“I knew him, and I only heard him yell at a traffic stop once,” Straka said.
Even while facing serious medical problems, Bob remained out of retirement for long, and a few months after retiring, he began working as a school resource officer at Laurel Valley Elementary School in New Florence. For someone as “generous and caring” as Bob, it was the perfect job, Straka said.
“I wanted to help out and I enjoy being around kids,” said Bob.
A 56-year-old man speaks quietly and calmly on the phone from his hospital room. Part of his current demeanor is just Bob himself, but another part is the aftereffects of multiple blood draws and a new treatment, dialysis.
Things recently took a turn for the worse when Bob was hospitalized at the end of December 2022, his kidneys were failing and unable to filter waste products from his blood.
Bob’s kidney failure now leaves patients with only three options, according to Dr. Amit Tevar, director of surgery for the Kidney Transplant Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Although no treatment or lifelong dialysis can be an option, Tevar believes that a kidney transplant, especially from a living donor, is the best treatment.
A living donor is, as the name suggests, a healthy person who is matched to a patient in need of one of their kidneys. Donors are usually family members and friends, but Tevar says they come from all walks of life to help extend the lives of others.
Patients are typically on a transplant waiting list for 5-6 years seeking donations from deceased donors, but live donations should be made within 2-3 months of finding a matching organ. I can.
UPMC performs about 200 kidney transplants each year, about 40% of which come from living donors, Tevar said.
Becoming a donor is not about a person’s blood type or a “perfect match.” When Tevar screens people for lifetime donations, the most important thing is that the person is healthy, has no underlying medical conditions, and is in good health. I am happy to make a donation.
“My main concern with donors is safety,” said Tever.
Tevar typically spends 90 minutes talking with potential donors to answer all questions and ensure they are completely satisfied with their organ donation.
Megan Kellerman, a 20-year-old nursing student and Straka’s daughter, recently began the process of finding out if she’s a match for Bob. She is one of about 20 people that Bob’s mother, Rita, knows who has been tested to be his living donor.
So far, she’s had X-rays and CT scans, as well as kidney function tests, and she says the process has been easy so far.
Kellerman, who also works as a patient care technician at the UPMC Presbyterian, said when he heard Bob needed a new kidney, he wanted to do everything he could.
“He’s the kindest person I know and a man who’s willing to give to others,” Kellerman said.
She was a little unsure about donating a kidney at first, but she also didn’t have an emotional “attachment” to her own organ.
“If someone needs a part, give it to them if you can without hurting yourself,” she said.
When my daughter said she wanted to donate, Straka was initially non-participating.
“As her mother, I wasn’t all that,” she said.
Straka is finally here, but Kellerman still has tests to see if she’s a match for Bob.
There is no cost for living donors. Appointments for examinations, surgeries and follow-ups are fully paid. After surgery, donors usually return to their normal lifestyle within a few weeks.
Start with follow-up appointments with your doctor every six months, but as time goes on, those appointments become less frequent.
For kidney recipients, Tevar and other members of his team follow transplant patients for life to ensure that the new organ does not stop working or is rejected by the body.
Once a patient receives a new kidney, much of their life goes back to what it was before dialysis, Dr. Tevar said. They can eat their favorite foods, go back to work, and be with their loved ones.
“It’s a joke that my patients send me a Christmas card in their first year[after a transplant]and forget about me because it means they’ve had their own life. ‘ said Tever.
Bob said he tries not to think about the challenges he faces and has never felt physically unwell, despite the lifestyle changes that came with it, such as dietary restrictions. Until now, I have made an effort to maintain a regular life while valuing my work and time with my family.
“I was working full time with a lot of overtime,” said Bob. “I have to go to dialysis three times a week, so I might cut back to part-time.”
Bob began working as a school resource officer in the Greater Latrobe School District in early 2022. Superintendent Mike Polembuka has known Bob since he was a police officer and was thrilled to have Bob return to his GLSD to work with the district and students.
“It’s not always easy to have that kind of relationship[with kids],” Polembuka said.
But Bob could always do it with a smile, whether in the hallway or on the playground, Polembuka said. Said.
“We can’t wait to have him back. Our kids and staff will miss him,” Polembuka said.
Bob is trying to fit his work schedule into dialysis, but according to Rita, he’s keen on spending as much time as possible with his “joy”: his family, especially his two grandchildren. .
Like any mother, she hates seeing her child suffer, but she also knows that her son is a fighter.
“He’s going to do what he can to stay close to his family. That’s Bob,” she said.
Alexis has seen Bob for the past three years as he continues to be very involved with his two grandchildren and never complains about what he’s going through.
“He just keeps doing the best he can and doesn’t even say much about how he feels,” Alexis said.
For Bob, the diagnosis and waiting for kidneys hasn’t changed much, he said. will do.
“I realize that I am not the only one waiting, there are thousands of people in need of help and many are in worse situations,” he said. “Some people are on the waiting list longer, so I drink it every day.”
Still, the wait was sometimes tough for him and his family, Rita said. Donor program information is available on our Facebook page Kidney for Bob.
When asked what a kidney transplant would allow, Bob mentioned his family.
“My two grandchildren, I want to be by their side,” he said.
Anyone interested in becoming a living donor for Bob, or any of the thousands of people waiting for a kidney, should contact UPMC at 412-647-5800 or apply online at livingdonorreg.upmc.com. can do.