Marble Falls Member Services Field Representative Jesse Martinez lay within the narrow opening of the CT machine, listening to its roar, already anxious about the results of the scan.
A year ago, he’d met a woman named Elena Newman at his church, Hill Country Fellowship in Burnet, and came to learn she has a serious disease affecting both of her kidneys. The condition requires her to undergo dialysis three times a week, which zaps most of her energy.
“She really struggles with the fact that she can’t do everything for her family,” he said. “She wants to be able to be there for her kids and be a good housekeeper; she just can’t do that right now.”
Newman’s long-term health depends upon a kidney transplant, but it hasn’t been easy to find a donor. The situation seemed hopeful when her niece stepped up to get tested, but she was not a good candidate. Newman was then placed on the general donor list, but it’s lengthy and recipients are selected randomly, making the chances of receiving a kidney very slight.
One Sunday in September, Martinez ran into Newman at church and asked how the search was going. She said it wasn’t, that she couldn’t find help and that she had given up all hope.
“That really hurt me,” Martinez said, “and I said to her, ‘How can you give up hope? That’s the strongest thing we have going for us.'”
Newman wouldn’t be cheered and expressed her belief that nothing good would come of her situation. Martinez immediately asked her how donation worked and what he would need to do to find out out if he was a match for her.
“He surprised me when he came forward and said he wanted to give me a kidney,” Newman said. She added that he was the answer to her prayers and that an act of kindness that selfless was something she could never repay him for.
“It was just a love thing,” Martinez explained. “I’m 61; I have had a great life, but the reality of it is if I can help someone, I’m going to.”
Martinez has always had a passion for serving his community — both at church and in the Texas Hill Country. He says it’s the main reason he enjoys working at PEC. All cooperatives abide by a set of seven cooperative principles, among them Concern for Community. Martinez takes pride in embodying these principles and values PEC’s dedication to serving its members.
When Martinez asked what he had to do to become a donor, Newman told him that his blood type needed to be O positive, and he confirmed to her he was a match. Excited, he scheduled the next exam: a CT scan.
Martinez was more and more hopeful about his chances of becoming a donor, but his CT scan results revealed he had large cysts growing on his right kidney. The doctor told him this was normal, but due to the possibility of the lesions becoming cancerous, it would be dangerous for him to donate.
“[The doctors] got together and decided it was not a good time to give my kidney away, which is understandable,” he said. “I’m glad it was discovered, but I’m disappointed that our roles got switched; Elena ended up helping me instead of me helping her.”
Regardless, Newman is grateful for Martinez’s efforts to help heal her.
“It was the biggest blessing that he was even willing to take the risk of donating his kidney for me,” she said. “Jesse would do this for anyone in our church and in his life,” she added. “He’s such a giving, loving man.”
Martinez continues to have faith they will find a donor for Newman, and because he hasn’t stopped his pursuit, he has kept her newfound hope alive.
“We are rejoicing knowing that the word is getting out there,” he said. “I just know that somebody is going to be touched by her story and want to give.”
If you have questions about becoming a donor or helping Elaina Newman, please contact:
Cindy Padilla, RN, BSN
Living Donor Renal Transplant Coordinator
St. David’s North Austin Medical Center
You can also contact Jesse Martinez at [email protected] or 512-954-4392.