Kidney transplant, dialysis save life of Minnesota man

Jeff Prins is grateful for the person who chose to be an organ donor and the care of Sanford Health.

By: Sanford Health News .

Jeff Prins and family
Jeff Prins and family
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It all started in 2008 with shortness of breath. At that time, Jeff Prins owned his own trucking business that he ran out of Pipestone, Minnesota, where he also lived with his family.

“Pretty soon I could barely even walk without losing my breath,” he said. “I went to my local doctor because I knew something wasn’t right, but had no clue what was happening inside my body.”

Jeff’s body was retaining fluid and it was building up in his lungs. The reason? He was experiencing kidney failure at the age of 36.

He was placed on the kidney transplant waiting list, but needed immediate medical care. So, Jeff began dialysis treatment in Pipestone every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For four hours each day, he received this life-saving treatment and waited patiently for a potential donor.

“I was grateful for dialysis and it really was my lifesaver,” he says. “It just became part of my routine.”

Switching to Sanford Health

Jeff continued to work, but wasn’t able to keep his trucking business because of his health. He took a job working for a local company as a driver, which allowed him the time he needed for treatments.

After about five years of waiting and feeling frustrated with his medical team, Jeff decided to transfer to the Sanford Transplant Center in 2014. And he says it’s the best decision he made.

“Everyone on my team communicated with each other, and knew my story each time I had a check up or visit with one of my doctors,” Jeff says. “I wasn’t so lucky to have that before – it was tiring to have to explain my whole story every time I went to the doctor.”

Patience pays off

Jeff continued dialysis and waited patiently for a kidney donor. After 2,207 days of dialysis, the wait was finally over. On Nov. 27, 2015, at the age of 43, Jeff received a deceased donor kidney and his life is forever changed.

Jeff spent approximately five days recovering at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, which is routine for a procedure such as this.

“The surgery went just as planned and to this point, I’ve had no complications,” Jeff says. “I couldn’t be happier with the outcomes and my team at Sanford. I trusted them completely and all of my doctors have been great about following up with me to make sure I’m doing okay.”

Returning to ‘normal’

Now, Jeff is returning to a more normal routine and relishing a life with more free time. Instead of spending time locked to a dialysis machine, he is enjoying time with his wife, 14-year-old stepdaughter and 3-year-old daughter.

Jeff is healing well. He’s grateful for the person who chose to be an organ donor, and giving him a second chance at a normal, healthy life. While he must travel from Pipestone to Sioux Falls for routine checks, he doesn’t mind.

“I love going back to Sanford to see the team and catch up,” he says. “They are always so supportive and it’s a pleasure to talk with them each and every time.”

Jeff’s advice for other patients facing a transplant is simple. “If you are not a patient at Sanford – it’s time to switch,” he suggested. “They know what they’re doing, and you can trust that you’ll get the best care possible.”