To know to see how dire Scott Burton’s situation is, just go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website – it’s all there, in bold letters: kidney failure kills more people in America every year than breast cancer or prostate cancer.
Scott’s problems began at birth. There were issues with blood flow to his kidneys during development and his mother’s doctors told him he likely wouldn’t live until he was two.
He survive that but, by the time he was 12, he was on dialysis. By 16, he had his first kidney transplant. By 21, his body succeeded in the rejection of that kidney that it worked at from the first day … and, he’s been waiting almost 20 years for his second transplant.
“The hardest part, I think, was just kind of watching the world kind of spin while I’m stuck in one place,” Scott says.
Since kidney disease affects one in seven Americans, chances are you know someone suffering from it. But Scott’s case was particularly difficult.
“It’s from the previous transplant and then transfusions, over the years, where I developed the antibodies so it’s made me kind of an impossible match,” he says. “The average wait for a transplant is, probably – depending on the center – anywhere from four to 7 years.”
Then … he got that call he was beginning to worry would never come. New York University’s Langone Medical Center called and said they might just have one.
Scott jumped on a plane, got to New York … and got his kidney, finally. Although his body is beginning to heal, the process has broken the bank.
“Insurance doesn’t pay travel. Insurance doesn’t pay for a hotel room, doesn’t pay for your Lyft rides or your food while you’re up there. I was very fortunate enough to have enough credit to spend six weeks up there,” Scott says.
The irony is, in those years Scott was waiting for his kidney, he was hardly idle. He earned both his undergraduate degree and an MBA and – besides working a full-time job – he also began a non-profit dedicated to keeping the need for kidney donors in the top of people’s minds.
“I’d like to say we’ll get to a point where everyone’s a donor, but I don’t think we’ll ever get to that point,” Scott says.
But he’ll keep working to try to get there. In the meantime, he has a new lease on life thanks to his donor – someone who, for now, he doesn’t know.
See more of Scott’s story in this edition of the Buckley Report.