GOODING, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) You can find Cathryn Hernandez watching hockey just about every time the Penguins play, but you won't always find her dad there with her.
He’s been ordered to stay home to avoid getting sick and compromising his impending kidney transplant. A transplant he’s been waiting on for quite some time.
Now, that transplant is just a couple weeks away, so they sit together, not just as father and daughter, but as donor and recipient.
Rewind to five years ago when doctors first told Louis Cook his kidney disease was getting worse.
“I was home barbecuing,” Cook said, “and I get a call from my kidney doctor. Said I need to come to the emergency room down at St. Luke's.”
“I get down there, and next thing you know, I got a tube in my chest.”
It was the start to Cook’s dialysis treatment, where he was hooked to a machine that could cleanse his blood in place of his kidneys.
To Cook, the tubes and wires were more of a ball and chain.
“It’s a nightmare,” he said. “It’s like being in jail.”
He thought about stopping completely.
“Just letting nature take its course,” he said.
Hernandez wouldn’t let that happen. When she found out transplant was an option, she got tested to see if she was a match.
“I just said there’s really no question. It’s kind of an obvious thing,” she said. “It’s my dad.”
It took years to plan, but the surgery date is finally near.
She said she’s excited to see her dad improve and be able to enjoy living again.
As Cook’s future grows brighter, however, hers becomes more uncertain.
Frequent trips to Salt Lake come at a moment’s notice.
It’s not conducive to holding down work.
“It's never planned,” she said. “You get a kit in the mail that says you need to be in Salt Lake this date, this time. There's not a lot of places where you work that they can just give you a day or two off every other week.”
She estimates extra bills from travel and doctor visits total to $5,000, a sum that exceeds her family’s rainy-day fund.
“It’s a lot of money we’ll have to fork out,” she said, “but… it’s worth it.”
Hernandez has set up a GoFundMe account to help with medical expenses. If you’re interested in donating, a link is available here.