Eddie Hartman

Eddie Hartman needs a kidney.

During a routine medical exam in 1998, Hartman, now 54, was told he had 60% kidney function.

“Which is really low for someone who is 31,” he said in an interview Thursday. “And I really didn’t get any advice or anything.”

In 2005, he underwent a medical examination and discovered that his kidney function had dropped to 40%. He started seeing Dr. Samuel Eby, a nephrologist – a specialist in conditions that affect the kidneys – and Eby did a biopsy. Hartman was in Eby’s care until Eby retired.

It turned out that Hartman had a condition called FSGS (focal segmental glomerulosclerosis).

“It’s an autoimmune disease in which my immune system has attacked my kidneys,” he said.

The kidneys filter waste from the blood in the body. Hartman’s immune system didn’t recognize that the kidneys were doing a good thing removing waste, so his immune system started attacking his nephrons (the filters).

By 2015, Hartman’s kidney function had dropped to 19%. The doctor told him he would be on dialysis by the end of the year. Hartman has changed her diet to mostly raw vegetables, a little fruit, and protein once in a while. His kidney function went from 19% to 25% thanks to this dietary change in three months.

Unfortunately, Hartman didn’t maintain that lifestyle and in January 2019, he felt like he was having a heart attack. His kidney function dropped to 8%.

“The reason I felt like I was having a heart attack was because of metabolic acidosis. It mimics a heart attack, but it’s an acidic condition in the body. The kidneys are responsible for maintaining your pH balance, helping with that, and I was too acidic, so I went to Parkview and found I had 8% (kidney function),” Hartman said.

By then he had passed the point of no return. His doctor firmly stated that he would be on dialysis by the end of the year, and in September he started dialysis.

“A week after starting dialysis, my energy levels returned and my brain fog cleared. I had developed terrible brain fog. Terrible energy! The energy drains. Because my blood was toxic , it wasn’t filtering,” Hartman said.

He has been on dialysis every day for eight to 12 hours a day for two and a half years.

“That doesn’t stop me from living. This is an important part: I have a great group of friends and a pretty active social life. I still work part-time,” he said.

He does computer technical support for businesses. He had his own business – Lake City Tech – but had to sell it because he couldn’t properly care for clients on dialysis for up to 12 hours a day. He is always working for the buyer of his business and helping to take care of the customers as best he can.

“I live a normal life. Dialysis is not perfect. It’s not a perfect substitute for kidney function. That’s enough. It keeps me alive,” Hartman said.

However, the sooner he can get a kidney, the sooner he can truly lead a normal life.

“Here’s the thing: the donor doesn’t have to match me. If somebody comes forward as a donor, anybody, and they’re willing to donate, and they’re eligible, there’s a trading program – a trading program as they call it – where since I brought this kidney to the table, someone is going to get it. It won’t be me if it doesn’t fit me, but someone else will. Thus, the giver will greatly improve the life (of the new recipient). Well, that puts me at the top of the list. Since I brought a kidney to the game, I will have the next one that matches me,” he explained.

Hartman is O-positive, but he reiterated that anyone can be a donor. For more information about the transplant program, visit the IU Health website at https://iuhealth.org/find-medical-services/transplant.

If Hartman obtains a donor, all medical costs will be paid by his insurance and IU Health. The donor will be “operational” after only a few days of recovery, Hartman said, while Hartman himself would have a few months of recovery.

“We have two kidneys, you can easily live with one. So I think God gave us a spare to share,” he said.

At any point in the kidney transplant process, if a person decides not to go ahead, Hartman said they can back out. There is no commitment until the organ is removed.

Hartman, originally from Chicago, has lived in Warsaw for 22 years. He has four daughters, aged 16 to 30, but he does not want his children to be his donors.

“It’s hereditary, so I didn’t want to go see my children because they had this disease. Mine didn’t develop until I was 30. I didn’t detect it, anyway,” said he declared.

For more information on Hartman and his journey, visit eddieneedsakidney.com, which will take you to Hartman’s Facebook page.

To donate a kidney, visit the IU Health transplant website, call IU Health at 800-382-4602, or contact Hartman through his Facebook page.