The Perfect Match!
In all his life, Bruce Pinsonat, a diehard Yankees fan, would have never thought he would have to cheer for the Red Sox. But that day came when his wife, Annette, would do a trade for a cheer for the Red Sox in return for one of her kidneys to save Bruce’s life. Of course, the agreement to cheer for the Red Sox was not the determining factor for Annette to give her husband her kidney. Annette just wanted her husband healthy.
After working for the organ procurement agency for many years (both Bruce and Annette), the decision for Annette was very easy and she knew the risk was minimal. “I really needed my husband healthy after a 10-year health decline and I knew a living related transplant was his best option,” said Annette.
According to Annette, she could not imagine having something that could save a life and deciding not to save someone in life or after death. “We received a second chance at life. For ten years, we were thrust into illness,” said Annette. “We are back to enjoying life, our kids, grandkids and LSU football.”
The couple have been married for almost 17 years and when they met Bruce was active, an avid golfer and rabid LSU football fan. They enjoyed tailgating, traveling and time with their kids. In 2001, his health began to decline which started the couple down a path of being tested for everything. Bruce was diagnosed with Glomerulonephritis, which is inflammation of the tiny filters in the kidneys that causes blood and protein to be lost in the urine.
For 10 years, Bruce endured high steroid treatments and chemo and was tired all the time. In 2011, he started retaining fluid, his kidneys began to fail and he was placed on dialysis. According to Annette, that was one of the worse days of her life. Watching Bruce go to dialysis three times a week for eight hours a day was horrible for her. Bruce was adamant that he would not take a kidney from a family member. But after four months of Annette watching Bruce go through treatment and knowing how long the wait could be, she was finally able to get Bruce to agree to her getting tested. She was tested, was a match and the transplant took place six months into dialysis.
The couple chose Ochsner as their transplant center because of its reputation for having exceptional outcomes. The center offered kidney removal by laparoscope which only requires three small incisions. Annette was back to work quickly, and her recovery was easy. For Annette, it is hard to describe what the transplant team offered them. Transplant is responsible for providing Bruce the ability to experience life with his family. The Pinsonats are very thankful to the staff at Ochsner who managed Bruce’s care. They would like to personally thank Dr. Staffeld-Coit, Dr. Sean Roberts and Dr. Garces. Also, the surgeons; Dr. Loss, Dr. Cohen, Dr. Carmody and Dr. Bohorquez and the nursing team consisting of Rebecca Guillera, Linda Dublin, Julie Hahn, Karyn Canales and Kelvin Norman.
Bruce and Annette can now enjoy their grandchildren and he has the energy to play with them. He has been able to have memorable moments with all of his daughters. He was able to walk Sarah down the aisle and will do the same for Katie. He was able to see Allison graduate from LSU and Lauren from Our Lady of the Lake. Last, he is here to see Amanda work on her master’s degree. The couple is grateful for these opportunities, but also for the support they received from their family during the process. According to Annette, it was really a “team effort.”
Annette is often asked about the surgery, about how it was and how she is feeling. She always responds that the donation was the easiest decision she had to make in their marriage. “To see your loved one sick is not for the faint heart. The most selfless gift is giving of yourself, even if it is a kidney,” said Annette. She explains that in 2017, there were 114,000 people waiting for a lifesaving organ and 34,000 transplants…do the math. She says, if you can donate, do it! The couple volunteers with Legacy Donor Foundation, which has allowed them to continue their life passion.
Lastly, Annette also wanted to add that the Boston Red Sox’s are AGAIN World Champs and a public appeal to her beloved husband that she really wants Red Sox’s blanket for Christmas!