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Man reunited with kidney recipient, embarking on tour to help others

<i>WNEM</i><br/>Brian Martindale
Brian Martindale

By Trevor Sochocki and Anna Muckenfuss

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    BAY CITY, Michigan (WNEM) — A mid-Michigan man is embarking on a nationwide tour this summer to bring attention to the need for kidney donations.

It’s very personal to him because he donated a kidney to a Bay City girl years ago.

“Jessica and I have done this before, together and apart, and seeing the success of it and finding that this is something I’m good at, I thought well why not take this to a national level,” said Brian Martindale, a kidney donor peer mentor.

The Bay City resident is traveling across the country to find kidney donors for those who need them.

“when I was ten, it was kind of hard to think about being this old and living through all of this. Because like I think about it, I don’t want to say daily, but at least monthly about like the people I meet, I wouldn’t have met them without him,” said Jessica Schwerin, a kidney recipient.

In a story TV5 covered nearly a decade ago, the now 20-year-old got a kidney from Martindale after her mother stood outside for hours with a pink sign.

“But the day before Thanksgiving is when Stacy got the call, Jess’s mom, she said, in the articles and the interview with TV5 that, she screamed so loud I should have heard her even four blocks away, Schwerin said.

Schwerin’s been working, saving money for college.

She’s a finalist for a scholarship from the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan, and she wants to go to Eastern Michigan University to study neuroscience.

“When I was little and like was in the hospital so much, I would like pull my own iv’s out, I would like help the people with my vital signs, I would be so interested in that and I think it really helped,” Schwerin said.

But Martindale says he might have gotten an even greater gift than Schwerin.

“All the times I got to watch her go through as a teenager, attending that play when you, you were in theater at Bay City Central High School, you know, watching her do the things that a normal teenager does,” Martindale said.

“There are days I wish I didn’t have kidney disease, but at the same time like, with what has happened and what helping people with like getting kidneys, it’s worth it,” Schwerin said.

A GoFundMe has been created to help.

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