Dairy farmer Dana Flood fittingly uses a farm analogy to describe the donation of one of his kidneys to his father.
“It was like taking a part out of one tractor and putting it into another tractor to keep it going,” he says with a laugh.
Dana and his father George are running smoothly these days following a life-saving procedure that took place on Feb. 23, 2010.
George, who turns 65 in July, had been suffering kidney failure since 2007. Dialysis wasn’t working and seeking a kidney donor became the lone option.
“I was going downhill steadily on dialysis,” George said. “I couldn’t even drive myself back home (from dialysis treatments). My kidney had zero function.”
Doctors determined that Dana, 38 and the father of a son and daughter, would be an ideal kidney donor for his Dad. No further discussion was needed on his end. George, though, had some concerns.
“He had two very small children at the time and I didn’t want him to be 50 years old and go through what I had gone through,” George said. “But he and (wife) Jenni were very insistent that he give me the kidney.”
Even though this was one of the biggest decisions ever made in their lives, it was a no-brainer, according to Jenni.
“How often does life hand you an issue of life-threatening magnitude and it takes just a simple ‘yes’ to solve it?” she said. “Dana did not hesitate at all.”
Within six weeks of the surgery, Dana was “back to turning wrenches and lifting tires,” Jenni said. As for George, his recovery took a detour when he was diagnosed with lymphoma, a side-effect of anti-rejection medicine. The cancer now is in remission but George says his energy level has been sapped.
“I used to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning and go all day, but the lymphoma knocked the wind out of me,” he said.
Nonetheless, he is a daily contributor at Flood Brothers Farm, which has been in his family since 1927.
The farm is in Clinton, known as “Maine’s Dairy Capital” because it is the state’s highest milk-producing town and has more cows than people.
On a recent June morning, George was busy planting a corn crop on more than 1,800 acres and he continues to help with the 1,600 cows that are milked daily. With such full days, George and Dana don’t spend much time reflecting on all they have been through. Besides, says Jenni, that isn’t either man’s style.
“You’re not going to find them hugging in the field over this and having a Hallmark moment,” she said.
Still, George fully appreciates that Dana made it possible for him to have a second chance in life. The gesture takes on special meaning as Father’s Day approaches.
“He gave me an everlasting gift,” George said. “His kidney is a part of me that is functioning every day. He definitely saved my life.”