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As a Donor and Recipient, Chris Understands the Importance of Checking the Box

Chris Feneis has experienced the power of donation from both sides.

Chris Feneis has understood the importance of donation and transplantation from a very young age. When he was just 10 years old, Chris offered to donate a kidney to his sister who had been born with a disease that severely affected her kidney function and quality of life. Although he was too young to donate at the time, and his sister’s illness was able to be managed without the need for transplant, Chris vowed to donate when the time came.  

Nine years later, that time came. Chris kept his vow from years earlier and donated a kidney to sister to save and heal her life.  

Chris recalls that the impact of transplant was almost immediate. His sister went from being constantly tired and lethargic to having energy and a new attitude towards life. She was able to finish college, get married and have a child – all the things that she never would have been able to do without the miracle of donation and transplantation. 

Years later, Chris began experiencing numbness and pain from his neck down to his fingertips. He lost strength in his left arm and hand, had limited movement in his neck, and was in constant pain. The pain became so severe that daily tasks, like buttoning a shirt and holding a cup of coffee became almost impossible. Chris consulted a surgeon who said that he had a narrowing of the spinal column that would require surgery. He was also informed that the surgery would include donated bone tissue from a deceased donor in order to enhance the healing process and the overall success. 

Just like his sister years earlier, Chris now found himself in need of donation to save and heal his life. And, just like his sister years earlier, Chris’s life was made whole by transplantation. 

With surgery now behind him, Chris is living a pain-free and active life. He is able to take on new physical challenges and do the simple things that he used to take for granted: buttoning his own shirt, holding a cup of coffee, and hugging his wife and daughters without pain! 

Chris has been a LifeSource Donate Life Ambassador for the past 5 years where he shares the message of donation in his community of New Richmond, WI. Chris says that he became an Ambassador because: “I have been blessed with the understanding of donation from both the donor and recipient’s point of view. I knew that I would be able to help educate people and raise awareness about the need for more donors and what donation can do. It’s my way of giving back and passing forward the precious gift of donation.”