Carterville man gets 2nd chance on life

Published: Apr. 25, 2013 at 12:18 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 25, 2013 at 1:21 AM CDT
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CARTERVILLE, IL (KFVS) - April is National Donate Life Month. It's a way to encourage all of us to consider being a donor. No one knows the importance of this better than Patrick Tretter.

"We had to monitor him," Evy McKeever, Tretter's girlfriend, said. "We had to set the alarm every two hours to check his sugar to make sure he would wake up in the morning."

"I guess I didn't realize how sick I was," Tretter said.

Patrick Tretter has been a type 1 diabetic since his early 20's. He ate healthy, exercised regularly, but the disease continued to take its toll on him.

"It's just really hard to watch someone go through that," McKeever said. "To see how healthy they are and basically become helpless. It's really hard to see."

Doctors told Tretter he needed to have a kidney and pancreas transplant. Both organs together would eliminate the need for insulin.

"Then you realize I'm sitting here waiting for something bad to happen," Tretter said. "You have to come to grips with that."

"Then, it is just waiting," McKeever said. "You have your phone with you all at times. Every time it rings you jump. Is it going to be the hospital calling?"

They got that phone call.

"We were there 12-13 hours waiting," Tretter said. "You can't eat anything; you can't drink anything because you could go into surgery anytime. Then, the doctor's nurses came in and said it's a go."

Tretter's went into surgery and 6 days later walked out of the hospital under his own power.

"I didn't hurt anywhere," Tretter said. "I wanted to walk around. You just feel so much better."

"Each morning you don't know if he is going to wake up and make it through the day," McKeever said. "Now, he's able to exercise and do things he was never able to do."

Tretter says he is honoring his donor by biking whenever he gets a chance. He wants the family of the 28-year-old to know, he will never be able to fully repay them, but he is proud to be an example of what giving life to another means.

Last year, he participated in three rides of 26, 30 and 35 miles. Now the 45-year-old Carterville resident is training for the Tour de Cure in Alton, Ill., on June 1.

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