6/14/02 - Father/Son Kidney Transplant is Dad's Day Gift One Year Later

This time of the year, Heartland news honors a "Definitely Awesome Dad." Last year's winner gave his son more than most: one of his own kidneys. In fact he spent Father's Day last year in the hospital. So how are father and son doing one year later?

Looking at Gabe and Randy mead today, you would never think that only a year ago, both of them were in the middle of serious operations. Today, they're enjoying life, and looking back on the surgery that saved 19-year-old Gabe's life.

"It was one of the most amazing things.  It was great," Gabe says. The mood of the Mead household is a happy one now, but a year ago the family was facing a huge challenge. Randy and his son Gabe were over two hours away from their family in a St. Louis hospital, so Randy could give his son the kidney he so desperately needed. Gabe says, "For somebody to give you a kidney you have to match three of six chromosomes and my dad had three and my mom had three." Randy says, "We were expecting it. We didn't know when. It could be when he was 17, 18, 21."

Gabe was born with a birth defect that caused his kidneys to deteriorate. A kidney transplant was his last hope. He was given a second chance in life from the man who has always been there. "I can't explain it, he's done everything possible he could for this family. He provides everything for us," Gabe says. Randy says, "Any father would do it for his son or daughter. I'm just fortunate I could."

Gabe has successfully made it past the first critical year. Doctors don't know if he'll need a new kidney in the future, but now that's not top of mind for Gabe. He and his dad are feeling great and enjoying what Gabe says is a whole new life. "It's pretty awesome. I'm enjoying life, I'm doing things I've never been able to do before like hang out with my friends. It's great," Gabe says.

Randy and Gabe say they don't have any big plans this father's day, they're just going to hang out at home and spend time together. You can see who won this year's "Definitely Awesome Dad" contest this Sunday on Heartland News at Ten.