GARLAND -- During a routine medical exam while serving a church mission to Korea, Marc Wilson was diagnosed with high blood pressure.
"The doctor who saw me said he had seen 400 missionaries that day and I was the sickest one," Wilson said. "He said he had never seen anyone my age with my blood pressure readings."
Before he left, Wilson said his blood pressure was at a healthy 130/70. The day of his exam, it had shot up to 180/100. The doctor called LDS Hospital to ask about medication and told Wilson if the medicine didn't work he would probably be sent home from his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He never got the medicine. Instead, he was sent home to a specialist.
"I went to a kidney doctor and had some tests. My kidney function was way out of whack and they couldn't get my blood pressure under control," Wilson said. "The doctor I was seeing at the time pretty much ignored me and he even admitted he ignored me, so I switched doctors and started seeing Dr. Harry Senekjian and he started helping me."
Wilson was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, a disease in which IgA settles into the kidneys. IgA is a protein that helps the body fight infections. Approximately 25 percent of people who have the disorder develop total kidney failure. Wilson was put on kidney dialysis. A little after a year, he received a new kidney from his mother.
"They put it behind my right hip," he said. "It did really well for about three to four years and then things started going out of whack again. In total, I've almost made it seven years with the new kidney."
Last November, Wilson was put back on dialysis and his physician had him put back on the transplant list.
"Right now I'm just waiting for a match and I go to dialysis three times a week for four hours at a time," he said. "My wife wants to donate her kidney to me but I told her no way. We have little children and I don't want her to do that."
But he also said his wife, Rwainer, is a redhead and with that hair color comes a very stubborn streak.
"I am going to get tested as soon as I can," Rwainer said. "I told him the doctors can be the ones to tell me no, not him. I really want to do this for him if I can."
In the meantime, if things don't work out, people can call LDS Hospital's transplant division and make an appointment to be tested.
Dixie Madsen, public education coordinator for Intermountain Donor Services, said in Utah, there are 745 people on the waiting list for all organs, including 480 waiting for a kidney and 27 waiting for a kidney and pancreas. In 2013, 110 people received a kidney from a deceased donor and another 54 received a kidney from a living donor.
"I don't want people to feel bad for me. It's just something I've always dealt with," Wilson said. "I just want to raise awareness of the importance of blood and organ donation. If someone goes in and is tested and they don't match me, that's OK. Maybe they'll match someone else and be able to help them. That would be great. There are a lot of young people in need of a transplant. I know people who are 15 years old and are waiting and they deserve to live a full life."