Local Business Owner Needs Help From Community Finding A Kidney Donor

Tony Widrig, shown with his wife Karen, is in need of a kidney.

During the past 30 years, Tony and Karen Widrig have raised four children to adulthood and built a successful air conditioning business serving the western communities, but now they face the most formidable challenge yet.

“Tony needs a kidney. He has polycystic kidney disease,” his wife Karen explained.

PKD attacks the kidneys, causing numerous fluid-filled cysts to grow in them. As these cysts get larger and spread, the kidneys become damaged, reducing their function and ultimately causing kidney failure.

Without a transplant, the disease is terminal.

Tony is still actively running Air Depot, their firm for the past 15 years.

“Tony works six days a week, even now, and never complains,” Karen said. “At 55, Tony is now at 16 percent function of both kidneys.”

She further explained that he can’t start dialysis yet because it will further damage the kidneys and other organs.

Unfortunately, the disease is genetic, so it is an inherited disorder. Since Tony’s diagnosis, other members of his family have been tested and found they have the disease as well, including two of his children. None yet have an advanced case of PKD like Tony.

With an appointment with his transplant team coming up, time is short in the search for a donor. Still, he told his wife that he didn’t want to seem like he was asking for charity.

“This is life. This is a fact of life,” Karen exclaimed as the couple asks for an “O” blood type person willing to donate a portion of one kidney. “He needs one-third of a kidney to survive and live.”

Despite being one of the few transplants that involve living donors, kidney donations are not easy to come by.

“It sounds morbid to say, but we were told that with the pandemic, car accidents are down, so the supply of donor organs is experiencing a shortage,” Karen said, adding that is why the living donor registration is so important.

“If anyone could help, or knows someone who could help, please contact us through my e-mail,” Karen said. “Tony is a really great guy.”

For more information, or to help out, contact Karen Widrig at kwidrigsavon@gmail.com.