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Braced with the ultimate fight to survive, Oakland County man shares remarkable story of recovery

Braced with the ultimate fight to survive, Oakland County man shares remarkable story of recovery
Braced with the ultimate fight to survive, Oakland County man shares remarkable story of recovery 03:18

HIGHLAND, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - After he became gravely ill, an Oakland County man from Highland, Michigan, braced for the ultimate fight to survive, is sharing the remarkable story of his recovery.

"Didn't realize how ill I was until we walked into the ER, and at that point, I was a dead man walking and didn't even know it," said Randy Westerman.

February 2023 is a time when life stood still for Westerman.

Pictured is Randy Westerman while he was hospitalized in February 2023.  

"My organs had already begun shutting down; my heart was in a-fib. By the time they got me back into a room, I was already failing. My kidneys were shutting down, my liver was shutting down, and my lungs, I could barely breathe," Westerman said. 

Doctors discovered his body unexpectedly went into septic shock.

"It became a fight for life for several days. I don't think anybody really expected me to live. Although I don't think I realized how bad I was at that point that I was really dying. But I did, at a couple of points, feel so bad I almost gave up," he said.

His organs started to function a few weeks later, but his kidneys continued to fail. Dialysis was the only choice to keep Westerman alive.

Photographed are Kathy Adriansen (left) and Randy Westerman (right).  

"We kept expecting the kidneys to come back, and they never did, and so it became obvious that my only hope of having a longer life would be to get a kidney transplant," he stated.

The process to find an organ donor can take years, but in Westerman's case, it took months.

His good friend and former colleague, Kathy Adriansen, was a perfect match.

"I felt excited, really, to be part of the solution. I feel excited in that it's a privilege because we were all hoping for Randy to get better," said Adriansen.

Pictured is Kathy Adriansen when she went in for surgery to donate her kidney to Randy Westerman in February 2024.  

Thirty-two years of friendship and counting. The two were close friends at church and worked together in the Huron Valley School District before Westerman retired.

"Kathy is just the most delightful, wonderful person," Westerman said. 

On February 16, 2024, Westerman received his transplant. Adriansen donated her kidney to save her friend's life.

"The fact that she would be willing to go through the pain of having something cut out of her to give to someone else —I mean, that's amazing. That's showing a love that is like the love of God to us. That's love in action," said Westerman.

Now, two months later, both have recovered. Adriansen is back to work as an office coordinator at Oak Valley Middle School in Commerce Township.

Photographed is Randy Westerman.  

"I feel really happy, and I'm just excited that Randy is healthy and doing well," said Adriansen.

As for Westerman, he now has a new lease on life.

"I'm really doing well. I've had a few ups and downs, but nothing major. The kidney is functioning well. Don't give up. Keep on praying, keep on believing," he said. 

The two say they hope Westerman's story raises awareness of the importance of organ donation so others in need of a transplant have the opportunity to live.

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