Lexington native Jim Crouch, followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the U.S. Marine Corps after two years of college. After proudly serving his country for three years Jim was scheduled to be discharged from the military with the plan to return to Kentucky and complete his college degree. At that time Jim’s goals were to graduate college while remaining in the reserves and attend Officer’s Candidate School in order to fulfill his dream of becoming a U.S. Marine Corps officer. However, all of that changed during a routine discharge physical.
“One of the tests indicated that I might have had an issue with my kidneys so they sent me to a Navy hospital in Virginia for a biopsy.”
It was there that Jim learned he had IgA Nephropathy. This disease can be silent for years, even decades, has no symptoms and the cause is unknown.
“The doctors told me that basically nothing would happen to me for 10 years so I just went on with my life and returned to college as planned.”
Jim only had two years left to finish his degree in accounting and graduated in 1986. With diploma in hand, Jim applied to Officer’s Candidate School in Virginia. Despite obtaining a medical waiver from his doctors Jim’s kidney condition made him ineligible for admission.
“Instead of fulfilling my dream of becoming a Marine Corps officer I became a certified public accountant for a Big 6 accounting firm”.
Jim was working for 2 years when he started having symptoms that indicated his kidney disease was progressing faster than the doctors had expected.
“My blood pressure was high, I was tired all the time and I began to forget things. Tax returns that took me one hour to do now took two.”
The doctors explained to Jim that these were all signs of advancing kidney disease and recommended that he go on dialysis. So in February 1989 Jim started dialysis and began the process of being evaluated for a kidney transplant. He underwent dialysis treatments for 3 months when he heard he had been put on the transplant waiting list.
“In May of 1989 I went on the transplant list. Then two weeks later, early in the morning, the UK Transplant Center tried to call me at home but missed me so they called my job. Luckily our receptionist came to work early that day and received the phone call that there was a kidney available and I was a candidate. She told me as soon as I walked through the door.”
Stunned and in a state of disbelief Jim first called the UK Transplant Center and then his folks in Lexington to tell them the good news. Later the next morning, on June 8th, Jim successfully received his new kidney. A stranger gave this 30 year old veteran a second chance at life.
“Since I had my transplant I’ve gotten married. It’s been 12 years now, and I have two daughters eight and eleven years old. There was a time when I was on dialysis that I thought this would never happen. My two girls have just been a blessing to me. I’ll get to watch them grow up and because I’m in good health I can do things with them.”
Jim has also been involved with the National Kidney Foundation of Kentucky. In 1989 he joined the Board of Directors and since 1992 Jim has lead the committee that assembled “Team Kentucky” for the U.S. Transplant Games [an Olympic-like event for transplant recipients].
“The Transplant Games has been one of my passions. The games have grown from several hundred to several thousand athletes now. It’s a unique way to show the world that transplantation does work and pay tribute to the folks who gave us the gift of life.”
Not only is Jim on the committee but a medal winning athlete. He and his tennis partner, Raul Lagos, won the gold in 2002 and the silver in 2004 in doubles. Jim also helped Team Kentucky earn their first medal in a swimming relay, the bronze, in the 2006 Games.