Barb Finneman and Donna Sorensen won’t forget the first time they met Michael LeBeau, M.D. They had rushed their mom, Darlene Huber, to Sanford Bismarck after an emergency room visit in their hometown of Hazen, North Dakota, revealed that her kidneys were failing, and she wouldn’t make it without intervention.
Huber knew who could give her the best care: Dr. LeBeau, who specializes in internal medicine and nephrology, had treated her several years before.
“That was a whirlwind night,” Finneman said. “We remember Dr. LeBeau walking into her room. His disposition was so unlike other doctors I’d met. He came in with a smile and was so friendly and calming. He just really made Mom feel comfortable and confident about her situation.”
Huber, then 83 years old and with several other health issues, hoped to have at least two more years and wanted to spend her time doing her favorite things — spending time with her family, making homemade pickles and enjoying her cat, Fritz.
Under the supervision of Dr. LeBeau, kidney dialysis gave her that time. For the next two years, Finneman and Sorensen split the responsibility of driving their mom three hours round-trip to Sanford Bismarck for dialysis every Tuesday and Saturday.
During that time, Dr. LeBeau and the entire kidney dialysis team became a huge part of the family’s life.
“They took time to get to know her and really took good care of her,” Finneman said. “Now we miss seeing them, because they became part of our family.”
Huber passed away on Aug. 29, 2017, almost two years to the date from when she started dialysis.
Finneman and Sorensen knew what they wanted to do to honor their mom’s legacy. Together, they made a $10,000 gift to the Sanford Health Foundation’s Guardian Angel program in honor of Dr. LeBeau and the kidney dialysis team. With their donation, the department was able to purchase a Sonic Window Handheld Ultrasound, equipment that will help the team continue to give the best care.
Finneman then made an additional $10,000 donation, establishing the Darlene Huber Memorial Endowment for Kidney Dialysis, which will provide the department with funding for years to come.
“We just wanted to do something for them, because they took such good care of our mom,” Finneman said. “We were able to have an immediate impact and then also a lasting effect.”
National Doctor’s Day is Friday, March, 30. Sanford Health patients interested in honoring a caregiver as a Guardian Angel with a gift to the Sanford Health Foundation receive a personalized card and Guardian Angel pin to show how much his or her work means to people.