INDIANAPOLIS — It was the happiest of birthdays Friday for the long-time handler of Butler University's beloved mascot, Blue III.
After announcing last April he needed a transplant, Michael Kaltenmark received a new kidney Thursday from his brother. On Friday, his 40th birthday, Kaltenmark said the surgery was successful and he and his brother are both starting to feel better.
Kaltenmark, who also serves as Butler's director of external affairs, said in a Twitter post he took a couple laps around his floor and drank some Sprite to celebrate his birthday.
I observed lunch by taking a couple laps around my floor and I’m now upright in my chair. Got to have 60 ml of Sprite for my “birthday cake” too!— Michael Kaltenmark (@MSKaltenmark) January 10, 2020
Still improving and hoping to visit with my brother soon. He’s also doing very well. We thank you for your prayers.#kidneytransplant pic.twitter.com/qzltM2LTds
In his hospital room, Kaltenmark discussed the need for people to sign up to be kidney donors so other lives can be saved.
"I just don't think it dawns on people that a lot of them are walking around with two good kidneys and they can part with one. So, it's not just something we talk about a lot. It's certainly not at the top of our mind. But yet, it's a reality," he said.
Last year, doctors told Kaltenmark, a husband and father of two young boys, his life expectancy was only four or five years if he did not receive a new kidney.
He began testing family members immediately, but doctors told him to keep looking for donors in case his family wasn't a match. He turned to social media, and the response was overwhelming.
"I totally underestimated the amount of people that would be willing to come to my aid," Kaltenmark said last month.
RTV6 reported in December that IU Health representatives said they saw a major increase in the number of people signing up to be donors after Kaltenmark shared his story.
"There are a lot of other people in my shoes who maybe don't have the network of support that I do who are just left to the list and their time may run out before the list provides a donor for them," Kaltenmark said.
Now that he has a new kidney, Kaltenmark can focus on other things along with his recovery. When asked if he planned to stay up Friday night to watch Butler's game at Providence, he said, "Heck, yes."