The life-saving donation of a kidney

Sonja Langseth

Sonja LangsethContributor

Trouble often comes in two’s, and in this case it comes in twins.

SDSU animal science majors Jarrod Bumsted and his twin brother, Jason, of Vermillion, S.D., both have IgA Nephropathy (IgAN), a rare kidney disease that occurs slowly over many years.

IgaN, also known as Berger’s Disease, is an autoimmune disease in which kidney inflammation and damage to the tiny filtering units of the kidney result in deterioration and eventually complete loss of kidney function.

Berger’s Disease

There is limited information available on Berger’s Disease, largely because the cause of the disease is unknown. It is also difficult to diagnose kidney diseases, as there are virtually no symptoms until the disease has begun major development and damage. According to the National Kidney Foundation 50 percent of those who are diagnosed with Berger’s Disease don’t develop a serious disease. However, that means the other half of people with Berger’s have the potential for their situation to decline. The decline in Jarrod’s particular situation was triggered by a type of virus.

Neither of the Bumsted twins, nor any member of the Bumsted family, knew Berger’s Disease ran in their family until Jarrod went in for a work-required physical. After Jarrod was informed of his disease, Jason immediately went to be tested and the results came back positive for IgaN as well. However, Jason’s situation was different: Jason’s disease had not yet been triggered to advance to a more devastating stage.

According to the IgA Nephropathy Foundation (IgANF), there is no scientific evidence that says Berger’s Disease is hereditary. In fact, IgANF has determined that over 90 percent of IgAN is not familial. However, since the Bumsted brothers are twins, doctors at Brookings Hospital suggest that heredity is a possibility.

“It was kind of a shock,” said Dave Bumsted, father of Jarrod and Jason. “We just weren’t ready for it. But then everyone realized what we had to deal with, and buckled down and looked at options.”

According to Jarrod, Jason had a biopsy on his kidneys immediately after the disease was identified to determine if Jason was capable of donating a kidney to Jarrod. As a twin, Jason would be the perfect candidate. However, it was determined that since both Jarrod and Jason have the same disease, Jason’s kidney donation would have no positive effects.

Life as a student

Since April 28, 2009 Jarrod has had to incorporate three four-hour dialysis appointments into his life every week, beginning at 4:30 a.m. and finishing around 8:30 a.m. at the Brookings Hospital. An active student, Jarrod had to arrange his activities in FarmHouse Fraternity where he is the vice president of administration, as well as his involvement with the SDSU Meat Judging Team, the Meat Science Club, and his work hours at the SDSU Meat Chemistry Lab, in order to adapt to his new schedule.

“It’s just something I have to deal with. I don’t necessarily think that it’s stopped me from enjoying life,” Jarrod said. “It has just made some things a little more challenging.”

The Meat Judging Team, one of Jarrod’s favorite extracurricular activities, involves a lot of travel to various states. In order to ensure his health, Jarrod’s social worker set up dialysis appointments at the local hospital of the city hosting the competition. While the members of the judging team practice, Jarrod is often at dialysis to cleanse his blood and enable him to compete the next day.

“He’s a tough guy,” said friend and SDSU meat judging teammate Matt Altman, a senior animal science major, “but he wouldn’t ever say anything.”

Community Support

Once they heard of Jarrod’s ailment, Jarrod’s brothers of the FarmHouse Fraternity hosted a hog roast benefit earlier this spring in April, offering a succulent meal in return for a free will donation. At the same time, a raffle was established for a quilt, which was made for Jarrod’s benefit. The quilt was created by the Brookings Area Quilt Guild and donated for the raffle. Friends, family, classmates and guests all extended their support.

Chris Hostetler, student-selected 2010 teacher of the year for the College of Ag-Bio and assistant professor in animal science, had the winning raffle ticket, and the winning heart; Hostetler went on to resell the quilt as an auction item in Jarrod’s name, and donated the additional money to his cause. Over $5,600 was donated and given to the Bumsted family to help pay for dialysis treatments and other doctor bills.

Clint Rusk, department head for animal and range sciences, was one of the many faculty members to attend the fundraiser. Recalling the many animal science enthusiasts supporting Jarrod at the fundraiser, Rusk said, “That just goes to show the kind of enormous respect the ARS students and faculty have for Jarrod.”

After the event, Jarrod realized he had been diagnosed with chronic kidney failure for almost a year. As he had already been placed on the national transplant waiting list immediately after his diagnosis, Jarrod could only wait and hope his kidneys wouldn’t give out before he found a match.

“If I had the same blood type and match as Jarrod, I would have donated in a second,” said Jason Croat, junior microbiology and biotechnology major. “He’s that kind of guy you’re willing to do pretty much anything for.”

Croat wasn’t the only one who wished to be Jarrod’s kidney donor; a few close friends and family members were tested but none were matches.

“It kind of sucked, knowing what Jarrod was going through and not being able to do anything about it,” said Amanda Hennings, senior animal science major.

Not only did Jarrod change his day-to-day schedule, he also had to make other sacrifices. Being a dialysis patient means he can only eat specific foods and has had to avoid certain food groups altogether, such as dairy and other foods containing high levels of phosphorus or potassium. If he does not monitor his intake properly, in accordance with dialysis food intake regulations, his bones will become weak and he will eventually be faced with heart failure.

“Throughout the few years I’ve known Jarrod, I’ve noticed how much he’s had to sacrifice: sleep for the most part, but he’s also had to follow strict eating habits and take daily medications,” said Croat. “I’d just like to see him back to his full self, enjoying what he wants.”

Fellow church member and Akron-Westfield Speech Director Susan Anderson knows the Bumsted boys from high school classes, as well as a cross-country tour in Europe. “Both have been through so much in the years since they graduated from Akron…But throughout all of it both of them have had such determination that they will get back to being who they’ve always been,” said Anderson. “I wish Jarrod all of God’s loving care and help to get him healthy again.”


According to Rusk, many of the ag-bio students and faculty are very much aware of Jarrod’s situation. “We consider Jarrod as an ambassador, not only for the College of Ag-Bio, not only for SDSU as a whole, but for bravery.”

Then, one September day, Jarrod’s patience paid off when he received a text message from a family relative who had previously been tested. She had overcome some personal and medical issues and had been retested, finally qualifying as a match for Jarrod.

“I was exuberated,” Jarrod said. “It was just a few simple words: “We’re a match &- I can donate a kidney for you!’ but it changed my life. The fact that it’s a relative makes it even more special.”

More than 80,000 Americans annually are on the kidney transplant waiting list, with a wait span of four to six years. Knowing this, Jarrod felt extremely fortunate he was able to get a kidney so soon.

“I’m really ready to just be done with it and get my life back on track,” Jarrod said. “Dialysis is such a demanding schedule &- it’ll be nice for a little normalcy.”

The six-hour transplant surgery was scheduled to take place at the Sioux Falls Avera Hospital on December 16th. However, the surgery date was postponed to December 22nd when the scheduled surgeon had to leave and act in a life-saving emergency.

Surgery plans included three hours to remove the kidney from his donor and an additional three hours to place the kidney into Jarrod. None of Jarrod’s kidneys were removed; instead, he now hosts three kidneys.


Recovery time is typically three weeks; one week in the hospital under medical observation and two weeks to undergo lab work to ensure his body is not rejecting the kidney. However, Jarrod was only in the hospital for five days before being released.

Full recovery is expected to take anywhere from four to six weeks and even prior to the surgery Jarrod looked forward to every day of it.

“I’ll need to be on an immunosuppressant for the rest of my life &- or as long as the new kidney lasts,” Jarrod said, “but at least my life will be more normal.”

Croat emphatically agrees &- for Jarrod’s sake. “Even though I couldn’t donate one of my kidneys, I was happy to know he’s getting one in mid December, close to my birthday,” said Croat. “Knowing he’s getting better is a present that makes my whole birthday.”

Jarrod is still recovering but is doing well and feeling great. He appreciates all the support and help from his friends and family and looks forward to getting his life back on track.

The Bumsted family is thankful they caught the kidney disease when they did; had the disease progressed further, other organs would have been attacked. However, as Jason has also been diagnosed with IgAN, the family is carefully monitoring him to make sure they catch it when it begins to progress further. This includes an annual doctor visit and keeping an eye on blood pressure. The issue with IgAN is that patients do not feel sick until the affected organs begin to deteriorate and decay spreads to other organs if not stopped.

“Going to the same church, I’ve gotten to see the Bumsted twins grow and develop into wonderful men,” Anderson said. “I love my Bumsted boys and it is through other people’s grace that I am able to love them longer.”

Dave also expressed the Bumsted family’s appreciation of the support given from friends, family, and professors.

“It’s amazing what people will do for other people when we live in such a crazy world,” said Dave. “Thank you to everyone who has helped us through this.”

Become a donor

The number of people needing transplants and organs are rising faster than the number of donors. However, kidneys are organs that can be given by live donors, who can survive with the remaining kidney. A kidney transplant is one of the lower risk transplants with a 97.6% percent chance of survival, according to Mayo Clinic Health.

Many success transplant stories are out there, not only for kidneys but for hearts, livers, and other vital organs. How many stories are never told because a transplant is not received in time? Much of America’s populace fails to understand the importance and implications behind the small five letter word on a driver’s license; donor.

According to Mayo Clinic, there are several myths associated with being a donor:

Myth: “If I agree to donate my organs, the hospital staff won’t work hard to save my life.”

Fact: When you go to the hospital for treatment, you will be seen and treated by a doctor whose specialty is most closely aligned with your emergency. The said doctor has nothing to do with transplant.

Myth: “I might not really be dead when they sign my death certificate.”

Fact: Hollywood has managed to make it a hype that dead people aren’t always dead. In fact, people who are donors are given more tests to determine if they are truly dead as opposed to those who haven’t agreed to organ donation.

Myth: “If I’m a donor, I can’t have an open-casket funeral.”

Fact: Donating organs or tissue don’t interfere at all with an open-casket funeral. As the donor’s body is clothed for burial, there are no visible signs of organ or tissue donations.

To those who are current donors, hats off to you. To those who aren’t, consider becoming a donor and make a difference in someone’s life.

#1.1839691:1320343033.png:kidney-story-2.png:Jarrod stands supported by members of the SDSU Meat Judging Team. From left to right, Seth Spronk, Ethan Spronk, Jarrod Bumsted, Ace VanDeWalle, Simon Kern:Submitted Photo