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Hammond man’s kidney transplant scheduled for next month

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HAMMOND – A Hammond man who appealed to strangers for a life-saving kidney will have life-saving surgery next month.

Scott W. Kron, 44, has IgA nephropathy, a hereditary kidney disease, and has been on dialysis for the past several months. His search for a suitable donor proved fruitless, and in November he turned to Facebook and local media outlets for help finding a match.

On Jan. 13, Mr. Kron will have kidney transplant surgery thanks to Lyons Falls resident Evangeline “Vangie” T. Yelton, 43.

“I thought it was too good to be true,” Mr. Kron said Friday after doctors announced his surgery date.

Mrs. Yelton said she contacted Mr. Kron almost immediately after seeing a link to a television news story about him on her Facebook news feed.

“It seems like fate, but I say that lightly because sometimes people look at you funny,” Mrs. Yelton said. “I had a gut feeling. I told my husband what I wanted to do it, and he said, ‘You know when you know.’”

Mrs. Yelton said the similarities between herself and Mr. Kron also motivated her to donate.

“He is a year older than me and has six children, and I have seven,” she said. “I recently had a cousin get a transplant, and I saw the difference it made. She was so close to dying. Before this, I thought only family members could donate.”

Once she consulted the donor registry, the decision to donate was a no-brainer, she said.

“I have a weird way of seeing things,” she said. “But the way I see it is, too many people are dying and you can’t help them. But you can help those who need a kidney. You only need one. Most people can live very healthy — sometimes even longer — with one kidney.”

The surgery will take place at Erie County Medical Center, Buffalo.

“The doctors keep asking if we are siblings because they rarely see a match so close,” Mrs. Yelton said. “We are a 98.8 percent match.”

The pair has also become great friends. Since she volunteered to be his match a few weeks ago, Mrs. Yelton and Mr. Kron have met three times and call each other regularly.

“We found out that he lives only five minutes from our camp. We must have passed by his house a million times,” Mrs. Yelton said. “He is like a big brother I never had, and he tells me I am like his little sister.”

Mr. Kron and Mrs. Yelton both said that they see their friendship long after the scars from their surgeries have healed.

“Since I first contacted him and told him I was willing to be tested, we haven’t even been talking about the surgery or the tests,” Mrs. Yelton said. “It’s just been all fun and laughter. This is a great connection we all have, and I am really blessed to be a part of it.”

Mrs. Yelton and Mr. Kron have also formed the Northern New York Connection: Bringing Together Living Kidney Donors and their Recipients, which will help connect donors and recipients in the north country. Mrs. Yelton has already set up a Facebook page for the group and hopes to have a website up and running in the next three months.

“I know how it is living here and by my visits to the Renal Center,” Mr. Kron said. “We don’t have this kind of notification system in the north country.”

Their Facebook page already has over 60 members after its first week.

“We have one woman who saw story about a Malone woman and got tested,” Mrs. Yelton said. “To me, despite the fact that I am donating a kidney, I see this as blessing that I am receiving.”

As for Mr. Kron, he expects to fully recuperate three months after his surgery.

“My kids and my wife are excited. I am excited,” Mr. Kron said. “The money is going to be tough. We are trying to scrape together the money for the trips that I have to do in winter time.”

A page has been set up to help Mr. Kron with his medical and travel expenses: www.gofundme.com/2bd7tc.

Mrs. Yelton said she is not nervous or hesitant about the surgery.

“I am at total peace with this,” Mrs. Yelton said. “I just hope my small gesture will encourage others to help too.”

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