Since his diagnosis for Immunoglobulin A Nephropathy in 2015, Tony Doshier, a veteran and Waxahachie High School graduate, has been desperately searching for a kidney donor to take him off dialysis and give him normalcy once again.
“I just found out last week of the final ‘yes,’” an elated Doshier said of the good news to receive a kidney on July 14. “It was such a weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Through two years of daily four-hour blood cleansing sessions, Doshier is finally exhaling with relief as local Waxahachie High School graduate, Harmony Cornwell, will be donating her kidney on August 8.
“She was a friend of mine in high school, and we hung out in the same a group of friends,” Doshier began.
“Well, since high school was over, I drifted on, joined the Air Force and traveled. I never ran across her until Facebook came around and we became friends and conversed here and there."
“I just felt that God laid it on my heart,” expressed Harmony Cornwell, friend and kidney donor to Doshier. “The way I put it is, if my family or I couldn't give a kidney to my husband, I would hope and pray that someone would come forth and do it."
“Tony’s gone through a lot of family members that weren’t a match for whatever reason, and I sat there as a wife and mom and hoped someone would do this for my husband if we were in the same spot. So I asked myself ‘Why shouldn’t I do it for someone else’s husband and dad?’ Once I understood that, it was a no-brainer for me."
As defined by the National Kidney Foundation, Tony’s disease, Immunoglobulin A Nephropathy (IgAN), also known as Berger’s disease, is a condition that damages the glomeruli inside the kidneys and can cause dialysis due to the organ’s inability to filter waste from the body.
Left with only five percent of kidney functionality in April 2017, Doshier was put on dialysis.
“It’s very hard on your body, and you can’t let it get you down mentally,” Doshier related. “If you let it get you down mentally, then everything else changes for you and I’ve seen that first-hand."
“Going on dialysis is not an easy thing to handle but finding that support system is extremely important. And for my journey I found that through Facebook, it’s literally the reason I found the kidney,” he expounded.
As social media platforms spread Doshier’s story, Cornwell was more than motivated to help an old friend out.
“I told him that I had been thinking and praying about it and was wanting to start the process,” Cornwell said. “I didn’t know if I’d be a match or not, but I started the process, and he was very grateful.
“He was like, ‘Even if it doesn’t work out, it means a lot that you would even try.’ So it was a day-by-day, week-by-week kind of thing for over three months,” she described.
As stated by the Alliance for Paired Kidney Donation, a typical kidney donor process is compiled of a series of extensive tests.
From blood tests to rule out any viruses and provide tissue typing for precise matching, to urine, heart, and cancer examinations, Cornwell went through many evaluations by surgeons, transplant social workers, and psychologists.
“I went in twice where they drew vials of blood because there’s so much blood work they had to run,” Cornwell explained the procedure. “I think my first one was around 17 vials of blood and the second one was 12 vials and then a vile for any extra thing they needed.”
“At my first appointment, they have stickers for each vial, and my stickers kept coming and coming because the more stickers you have, the more blood you give. And the man next to me was like, ‘Will you have any blood after this?’ she laughed.
“I also had to do CAT scans, x-rays, interviews, questionnaires, and I met with the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the dietician too,” she described the four-month testing period.
Though Cornwell was eager to donate in 2016, unfortunately, the birth of her second child prevented her from doing so.
“I got married and had a kid, and the timing was just never right until four months ago, and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it,” Cornwell acknowledged. “My husband and I sat down and started talking and praying, and researching it, and then I reached out to Tony with all sorts of questions.”
“The more I researched, the better I felt. It’s life changing, but you’re not going to skip a beat once you recover. You can still be active and not be less of a human. The more I researched, the more I felt comfortable to be without one less organ,” she articulated.
Knowing she was a possible match from the blood work done in March, Cornwell had to undergo one more CT scan for a potential problem found on her lungs.
“It was this slow drawn out week because I needed another CT scan done because a spot came up in my lungs,” Cornwell recalled. “So they wanted to make sure it wasn’t something serious or wrong.
“I went in for it, and in my heart, I kept praying, ‘Lord, shut the door if this isn’t supposed to be happening.’ But God kept opening doors, and I’d walk through, but I kept wondering, ‘Why now at the eleventh hour does this come up?’ Then the phone call came, and they told me it’s nothing and that everything was clear,” she confirmed.
“It was definitely a shock for sure,” Doshier expressed the moment he found out Cornwell’s kidney was a match.
“It was like, ‘Wow, this person that I haven’t’ spoken to at any length since high school 17 years ago just found it in her heart to go be tested.’ She has a lot on her plate and found it in her heart to donate to me – it’s such a selfless thing to do,” he conveyed.
“She is a walking angle on earth. I’ve said to her multiple times that I knew she was special back when I befriended her in high school, but I had no idea that she was this special of a person. She’s just the most selfless person I have ever met, and I’m happy to have her as a friend for life,” he thanked.
Preparing for August, Cornwell will be preparing for the first surgery of her life.
“I’ve never had surgery before, so this is kind of new for me,” Cornwell laughed. “I’ve never broken a bone or anything, so I’m just jumping in and giving a piece of me away.”
“I’m happy about it because I just see him with young kids as I have, and it’s a 'no brainer' to me to just help out. If God lays something on your heart, just trust it and run with it and he’ll take care of the rest,” she encouraged.
With a bright future ahead of him, Doshier plans to get his real estate license once the recovery process begins.
“I just recently got my real estate schooling done, and I plan to study for the state test while I’m in recovery. I wanted to take this time to better my life,” Doshier noted.
Grateful to Harmony and his Waxahachie family for the support, Doshier encourages those who may be in the same situation to “keep your head up” and find support.
“A community should always stick together and not just for someone like me that has a military background. Through this journey, I found tons of people that are in similar situations,” Doshier recalled.
“You hear about donating kidneys, but you never think about it. I think it’s important for the community to step up and be selfless like Harmony has been. So don’t give up because your life is worth fighting for,” he concluded. “I’m glad my journey is not over - it’s just starting a new chapter.”
To connect with Tony, visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/findtonyakidney.