SWEETWATER, Tenn. (WATE) — The Hicks family has one big wish for Christmas: a living kidney donation for Dustin Hicks.
Dustin said his kidneys started slowly failing several years ago, but he was first placed on a transplant list in 2017. The diagnosis wasn’t a surprise. He had neuroblastoma when he was 5 years old.
“It wasn’t a total shock to me, because I had childhood cancer. So, many treatments for that damaged my kidneys,” Hicks said.
At that point, he still had some kidney function left. But, after 2017, his kidney function rapidly digressed.
“In September of 2019, I had very bad shortness of breath, couldn’t lie down,” Hicks said.
His wife Amanda Malicoat took him to the emergency room. Doctors told them his kidneys had stopped functioning and as a result he went into congestive heart failure.
He started dialysis immediately.
His health issues continued spiraling down after getting an ash splint, a type of catheter needed for dialysis. Malicoat said her husband had open heart surgery in July 2020.
“They put in an emergency ash split, that caused a blood clot,” Malicoat said. “And then from the blood clot, he was sepsis and ended up having open heart surgery and a pacemaker. All due to having emergency dialysis because his kidneys quit.”
The health complications meant Hicks was taken off the kidney transplant list.
About a year later, he’s better enough to be put back on the transplant list, at least at St. Thomas Kidney Center in Nashville.
The last few years have been tough on him and his family. Hicks has been fortunate enough to continue working, and even from home when needed.
They’ve been able to go on a few trips, but they have to travel with bags full of medical equipment, including his dialysis machine, which weighs about 70 pounds.
His condition cuts back on family time.
“I like, feel good once every day out of two weeks or something,” Hicks said. “Other than that, I’m always real heavily fatigued.”
For the past several years, his 15-year-old daughter Riley has had to watch her father go through health scares, visit the hospital often, and just stay in bed because he’s too tired. She’s also helping her father.
“She fixes his machine and makes sure that we have what we need, like supplies wise and she’s always like, ‘You need to take your medicine.’ I mean, she is like on him,” Malicoat said.
Malicoat said no 15-year-old should have to see what her daughter has seen, when it comes to what Hicks has gone through.
They want family time back, but they need a kidney for life to go back to normal.
“I probably don’t even know what it feels like to feel normal,” Hicks said. “So, yeah, a kidney would change everything.”
Malicoat said they were told the average wait time on the transplant list is about two-to-five years, and that’s if he’s not taken off again due to his health. Until her husband receives a transplant, Hicks will have to continue dialysis four days a week for as long as his heart can handle it.
They know it’s a huge ask, but they’re hoping and praying someone will be an angel for their family and donate a kidney.
Hicks needs a Type-O kidney, and the person can’t have certain underlying health conditions.
To start the process to see if you’re a match, you can visit the St. Thomas Kidney Center website.
Malicoat said if someone is not a match for Hicks, but donates a kidney in honor of Hicks, he could possibly receive another kidney sooner.
If you have questions about donating a kidney, visit the National Kidney Foundation.