MINNEAPOLIS — Last year, David Rivera refereed or umpired over 900 youth sports games, all while waiting for a life-changing call.
Rivera collapsed on the field one day while refereeing a game. Three days later, he was told his kidney was in stage four renal failure.
He was on kidney dialysis for 19 months, but continued to referee while waiting for the call the could change his life. He got a call out of the blue one night; someone had died, and the hospital was flying in a kidney and pancreas.
"Beyond grateful, eternally grateful. People here, to the family that provided this donation," he said. "I can't describe how deeply grateful I am for what those people provided me."
After a successful surgery, Rivera is looking ahead at a whole new life.
"For David, after the transplant, he should be off of insulin, which means he's no longer diabetic. He should be off of dialysis which means he no longer has kidney failure. So those two things are like shackles being removed from off of you," explained Dr. Raja Kandaswany, M Health Fairview transplant surgeon.
While he's been in the hospital, he's had time to reflect on his life, and think of his wife, two children, and three grandchildren. He's gotten a gift of a new life that should serve him well for decades to come.
Rivera hopes to be out refereeing again in about four months.