Jeremy Ioane has a new kidney — and, soon, will feel like he has a new body.
He plans to use his renewed health to focus on the one person in his life who has never seen him at full strength: 2-year-old son, Raydor.
Ioane received the kidney May 5 from his twin sister, Jasmine. The transplant should allow him to live for decades after a rare disease (IgA nephropathy) decimated his own kidneys. Ioane was discharged from the University of Utah hospital Tuesday; Jasmine was released Thursday.
“It feels great,” Ioane said Tuesday, still surrounded by his sister, parents, son and girlfriend. “Now I just want to spend a lot of time with my family and look forward to being happy and being strong together as a family. ... Spending more time with my son is the biggest thing — being able to have more energy and being able to run around more. Showing him more attention and being there for him more.”
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Ioane, 23, played six games in 2014 by undergoing dialysis to supplement his failing kidneys. He started the first three games before a cross-country trip to play Connecticut limited his play and practice time the rest of the season.
Memorably, he was honored on Senior Day on Nov. 29 — two days after he revealed his illness publicly in the Idaho Statesman — and played two series. It was his final game action.
By the end of the season, Ioane couldn’t lift weights or perform any conditioning.
“Every little physical activity hurt me a lot,” he said. “I pretty much stayed away from all that and just focused on my health and trying to survive.”
Jasmine, a former pitcher and DH for the Weber State softball team, watched from afar as her brother withered. She didn’t realize the severity of the disease until November, she said, and quickly offered a kidney.
“Seeing what he had to go through with dialysis and seeing how drained it made him and how tired and less-energized he was, that motivated me even more to want to do it for him, for his future,” Jasmine said.
The original plan was for the twins’ mom, Doris, to donate a kidney so Jasmine would be available if Ioane needs another kidney later in life. Doris wasn’t approved for the surgery because of higher risk factors for her own health.
Jasmine began testing in mid-February. She was approved in late March. The surgery was set for May, four days after her college graduation.
“If I wasn’t approved, I would have been a little disappointed and let down that I wouldn’t be able to help my brother,” she said. “It was very exciting news and awesome that I was able to be approved to give him my kidney. It was a sense of relief also.”
Ioane’s original kidneys were left in place. He’ll need six or seven weeks before doctors remove limitations on his physical activity. Ioane also must spend an extended period, likely about three months, in the Salt Lake City area for continuing treatment. He’ll need medication for the rest of his life, he said.
But he feels “a lot better right now than I thought I would a week out of surgery,” he said. “I feel myself getting stronger every day since I’ve been here. I can only imagine the progress going forward — never looking back again.”