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Overland Park man encourages community to donate kidneys

Joey and Audrey Sughroue
Posted at 6:09 PM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-23 07:49:04-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Joey and Audrey Sughroue enjoyed their wedding day this past summer surrounded by friends and family in downtown Kansas City.

The couple met just before lockdown in 2020. Joey Sughroue said COVID-19 accelerated their relationship, but a recent decline in his health has strengthened their bond.

“Sometimes I feel selfish, just because a lot of what we do revolves around my health,” he said.

Joey Sughroue has Alport Syndrome, a rare disease that’s damaging his kidneys. He asked all of his friends and relatives for a living donation, but they have not found a match.

“I wish I was a match for him so I could just do it myself and make this all better,” Audrey Sughroue said.

Dr. Lee Cummings is the kidney transplant surgical director for the St. Luke’s Health System.

“Almost every transplant [organization] tends to be somewhat conservative,” Cummings said. “We want to make sure if we take a kidney from someone that they themselves down the road don’t need a kidney.”

Cummings said the best way to find a donor is to be open with your community about your struggles.

“If you want a kidney, you have to get it out there, get the word out,” he said. “You need that donor champion, whoever it may be, to get out there and talk to your family and friends.”

The Sughroue family is staying positive while they wait for a kidney.

“There’s only so much that we can do. Doing as much as we can, but also not stressing about what we can’t control too much,” Joey Sughroue said. “I don’t think it really matters when the transplant part of my life happens. I’m going to keep living my day-to-day and be with my beautiful wife and enjoy the little things as much as possible.”

The couple has plans to visit the east coast and wants to start planning a visit to Asia in 2023. They are holding off on growing their family until Joey receives a new kidney.

“I know the odds are against me, really, but we keep spreading the word, and eventually it will happen,” he said. “Hopefully if it doesn’t happen for me, I really want it to benefit anyone in need of a crucial, vital organ like a kidney.”

There are currently about 93,000 people waiting for a kidney donation.