One Family Donates Four Kidneys to Save a Man’s Life

Mark Fenrich, a 34-year-old IT project manager from New York, has a unique story of survival and family love. He has been through an extraordinary journey of multiple kidney transplants, starting from a very young age.

family kidney donation

Fenrich first faced kidney disease as a toddler. He received his initial kidney transplant from his mother when he was only 21 months old.

Growing up, Fenrich’s parents treated him like any other child, not letting his medical condition dominate his childhood. However, the reality of his condition hit hard around the age of 12 or 13. It was then that his first transplanted kidney failed. This critical moment required a second transplant, this time from his father. Fenrich remembers this period as “Then once all the fanfare around the actual event itself settled down, I just kind of forgot about it for a while, other than taking my daily meds.”

dad donates kidney to son
Mark Fenrich with his father, James Fenrich, who donated his second kidney.

Fenrich’s challenges with kidney disease didn’t end there. In 2015, when he was 26 years old, his health took another turn, necessitating a third kidney transplant. His uncle stepped in to donate, offering another chance at a healthier life. Despite hopes that this third transplant would be his last, Fenrich’s journey was far from over.

uncle donates kidney
Mark Fenrich with his uncle, Joe Fenrich, after receiving his third transplant.

In December 2022, he faced another setback when his third transplanted kidney began to fail. On January 1, Fenrich started dialysis, a demanding treatment he humorously refers to as a part-time job no one desires. It was during this period that he was diagnosed with aHUS (atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome), a condition leading to small blood clots and potential kidney failure.

Despite his discomfort with asking for help, Fenrich’s family rallied around him once more. His wife, mother, and father reached out to extended family members for a donor. Initially, a cousin volunteered but later withdrew. In a turn of events, Fenrich’s brother, Steven, decided to donate.

April 2023 marked the date of Fenrich’s fourth kidney transplant. The surgery was complex due to limited available transplant sites and the risk of the body rejecting the new organ. Dr. John Bynon, Fenrich’s surgeon, noted the exceptional nature of his case, as only a fraction of patients get a second chance at transplant surgery.

multiple kidney transplants
Mark Fenrich

Today, Fenrich is on a special medication, eculizumab, to prevent kidney rejection. He feels healthy and strong.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2.

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