INDIANAPOLIS — After months of searching, Michael Kaltenmark, who is best known as the handler of Butler University's mascot, Blue III, has found a kidney donor.
Kaltenmark learned earlier this week his brother is a match, and kidney transplant surgery has been scheduled for Jan. 9.
Kaltenmark is also Butler director of external affairs, a husband and a father of two young boys, and it was earlier this year that he received news that would change his life forever.
"To be told initially, like, hey, you need a kidney transplant or in four, five years or you will be dead, that's sobering," Kaltenmark said.
And right now, that's about how long it could take to get one. A kidney is the most-needed organ in the United States and in Indiana. According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, there are more than 1,300 people in Indiana waiting for some type of organ.
Of those, 1,088 are waiting for a kidney, 86 for a heart and 84 for a liver.
"So, even if we didn't put anybody else on the list, it would take us three or four years just to catch up to the list we have right now," Dr. Tim Taber of IU Health said.
I’m getting a kidney!— Michael Kaltenmark (@MSKaltenmark) December 13, 2019
Transplant confirmed for Jan. 9. My brother is the donor.
I don’t have the words to articulate how grateful I am to my bro, to everyone who selflessly stepped up to donate, to those lifting me up in prayer, and to my medical staff. Thank you! God is good.
Kaltenmark began testing family right away, but doctors told him to keep looking for donors in case his family wasn't a match. That's what he turned to social media. The response was overwhelming.
"I totally underestimated the amount of people that would be willing to come to my aid," Kaltenmark said.
After Kaltenmark shared his story, representatives with IU Health say they saw a major increase in the amount of people interested in becoming donors.
"I think it speaks to how great our church family is, the Butler community is and the Indianapolis community, and I think it also speaks to how much people love Butler Blue," Kaltenmark said.
He wants to use his platform to educate others and spread the word about kidney donation. He hopes by sharing his story, he can encourage others to consider donating.
"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.
Go here to learn more about how to sign up to become an organ donor.