Impact Of A Choice: Sister Saves Radio Host's Life


By Brittany Cooper

Jerome, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) A local radio host is counting his blessings after being born with a genetic disorder called Alport Syndrome.

The health condition deteriorates one's kidneys over time, along with impacting vision and hearing. But through humor and a solid support system, James Rabe has his quality of life back.

You can hear James Rabe each morning on Hot 100 FM.

James Rabe is known for his humor, but his health is no laughing matter. Born with Alport Syndrome at age five, Rabe's family knew one day he would need a kidney.

Joan Rabe, James' sister says, "we were actually really eager for him to get it as quickly as possible. And I think everyone in the family was wondering if we're a good match and be able to donate a kidney."

Rabe never went through kidney dialysis until last year when his health started to decline.

"I was so weak I couldn't even put my pants on. I was so winded. So the doctor said wow, you have almost no hemoglobin. I had level 3 hemoglobin which I guess is close to death, exclaims James Rabe.

Rabe's dialysis was an eye–opening experience for him ...and modesty went out the window.

James adds, "I had a tube put in my gut. I called it my "gut tube" and that is how i did dialysis at home where I just put fluid inside me and the fluid I call "jimmy juice" actually took out all the poison out of my body and then i could empty my gut and I'd be better for a little while."

The radio host spent 16 years living in Rochester, Minnesota, the home of the Mayo Clinic.

His sister lives there and an appointment at the clinic would change his life forever.

According to Joan, "the nurse told him what his blood type was and I said, "oh that's my blood type too! about the same time they were telling him he's approved to get a transplant. They were able to tell me I was a perfect match."

December 21st 2012 marked the big day —–the day of the kidney transplant. Rabe of course felt better the next day. And his sister got back on top of the mountain too, literally.

Joan says, "by six weeks after surgery, I went off on a cross country ski weekend."

Rabe spent two months away from his work here at Hot 100 FM. By the time late February rolled around, he was back to where he left off.

"I will not be a good retired person, I will have to be working forever because I just love it, I love what I do," adds James.

And so do his listeners.

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