GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Ryan Pierini’s world is theater. It is his respite, is safe zone, but theater, like a lot of things, have been more difficult.
“I haven’t been able to do a lot in the last couple of years just because of dialysis and my treatment," Pierini said.
In 2015, the Gulfport resident found out he had low kidney function from Polycystic Kidney Disease and began dialysis in June 2016.
He was told initially there would be a wait of three to five years for a new kidney.
“When I came to my yearly appointment this year, they’re like it’s going to be another four years,” he said. “So, I was like, that’s seven years. That’s a long time.”
As theater director for the Jefferson Davis Campus at MGCCC, he was totally committed, although his condition is always on his mind.
“Oh, every day,” he said. “You’ve got to live with it, but you also have to live. You’ve got to live your life.”
That commitment to theater was something his new wife, Patience, quickly discovered.
“Even in our first year of marriage, it was like pulling teeth sometimes just to get him to come home,” she said with a laugh. “I’m over here like, ‘I’ve got a home-cooked meal, I’ve got your favorite movie, where are you?’”
She helped him make a decision that would change the course of his life - to look for a live donor.
“I just had this kind of ah-ha moment and I told Ryan, ‘You know, we have so many people who care about us, and we really need to be open to what it is that we need and what we need from people.’”
A simple post led to the page, Find a Kidney for Ryan.
“I was like dumbfounded by how fast that was going because I’ve never had anything shared that many times before,” he said.
Then, just weeks later, a donor came forward, and it was someone he hasn’t seen since graduating from Mackintosh High School in 1994.
“I want to make sure this story is also about them because they’re the ones giving me the gift of life,” Pierini added.
Carroll and Michael Harris live in North Carolina. She will be the donor but both are compatible donor.
“We are both givers and we want to help and like I told her, if she can’t for whatever reason, then I can,” Michael said. “And we’re fortunate enough that we can do that. We support each other and I see that Ryan and Patience have that same kind of relationship.”
Ryan and Patience started a GoFundMe account to help with their traveling expenses. It exceeded the goal in just days.
“It’s just been absolutely amazing the response that we’ve gotten from his personal community and also from the class of 1994,” Carroll said.
Her reason for doing it?
“I think the biggest thing I’m getting out of it is just the joy of knowing that Ryan’s quality of life is going to go up almost immediately,” she said.
After an initial meeting with counselors in New Orleans on Aug. 2, she now has two weeks to make a final decision.
“There are no doubts,” she said. “Of course, there’s fear involved, but that has nothing to do with my decision. This is what we want to do, this is what we’re going to do.”
The date of the operation is not certain. Pierini said it could be within the next three months.