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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Love Thy Neighbor…
Wednesday, August 6, 2008 • Posted August 6, 2008

We have no way of knowing how many “Hal Rowes” there are on the planet. Hopefully, there are more than might be guessed. Had his recent donation been made a couple of millennia earlier, it might have made the Bible as an example of Jesus’ “Love Thy Neighbor” admonition.

In this case, the donee is a long-time casual friend—a retired music minister named Randy Parsons. The “Rowe/Parsons” story is the “buzz” of Lubbock, and it was the centerpiece of Dr. Jerry Joplin’s recent sermon at Bacon Heights Baptist Church, where Rowe is a long-time deacon.

Hal has always been a “give back” kind of guy, but now he’s gone and given away a kidney. Not many 67-year-old Alzheimer’s patients do such things….

  • * * * *

Rowe, known for his work behind the scenes, this time drop-kicked his “bushel” to shed light on a strong conviction. Simply stated, he wants to show others that Alzheimer’s patients still can help others.

Joyce, his wife of 46 years, knew that any objections would be fruitless. And children Melissa and Kevin soon came around. “I’ve got some extra ‘parts’ that I don’t need, and I told Randy last year that if he ever needed a kidney, he could have one of mine,” Hal said, smiling.

Medical tests, conferences with doctors and psychiatrists and “prayer meetings” with Rowe family members followed. Blood types matched, and soon, all “caution lights turned to green.”….

  • * * * *

For the 72-year-old Parsons, it was his second time to be a donee. Fifteen years ago, a liver transplant was successful.

Anti-rejection medication finally got the best of his kidneys, however. He was told that dialysis would one day be needed. When his kidneys shut down a few months back, Parsons scheduled surgery for the implantation of a shunt, anticipating home dialysis.

Rowe intervened, reminding Parsons of the offer he’d made last year….

  • * * * *

In the past year, Rowe is batting .500 on donor offers. A blood donor during most of his adult life, he was turned down last year.

They can’t accept blood from persons who are on Alzheimer’s medication.

“So, I crossed ‘blood donation’ off my list, and I’m tickled that my medication doesn’t contaminate kidneys,” Rowe smiled….

  • * * * *

Rowe is the prototype of a “good ol’ boy.”

He is a 1959 graduate of Temple High School, where he and Joyce started dating during their junior years. They then enrolled at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, where he was awarded a football scholarship. A lineman, he quietly worked in the trenches—as he has in life since.

Hal was the kind of player who’d help the other fellow up, even if he’d been the one who sent him to the turf….

  • * * * *

In Lubbock, he managed a furniture store for several years. Joyce was a decorated teacher in the public schools, where she signed off on a 24-year career in June.

Along the way, they’ve accumulated several rental properties.

He’s one of the city’s most popular landlords, always smiling, extending due dates and unfailingly forgiving. And to widows in his church, his handiwork in home repairs is legendary. They call him “Mr. Fix-It.”…

  • * * * *

Quick-witted and ever eager to find humor in unlikely situations, Hal is “so far, so good” with his disease.

“My memory slips now and then, like it always has,” he grinned. “But Joyce’ll know that it’s plumb gone if I try to give away my other kidney.”

Doctors and others are nothing short of amazed at the goings-on….

  • * * * *

It’s all happened fast. Hal’s offer was made May 5. The medical transplant committee was “thumbs up” on June 17, and the next available date for surgery was July 10.

“My prayer all along has been that if this were not the thing for Hal to do that God would shut the door at some point,” Joyce said. “There was never even a window closed; it was a ‘go’ from the beginning. Throughout the procedure, God gave me a perfect peace about everything.

“To see Hal’s determination and joy—and how strongly he felt about donating the kidney—makes us very proud of him.”…

  • * * * *

As Hal and Randy were wheeled into surgery, some of the doctors and nurses blinked back tears as they completed God’s miracle. The four-hour surgeries began at 7:30 a.m. (Randy’s creatin level was at 10, well into the dialysis range, since normal is 0.5 to 1.5. Hours later, it was down to 3.0. When he was dismissed three days later, it was 1.0.)

The kidney began functioning immediately, and he’s had no pain medication since the day of surgery. Surprisingly, his vision since the surgery is markedly improved. Doctors say that the toxicity of his system was the reason he could no longer see to read.

The First Baptist Church deacon is reading again—even piano music, his rhythm of life restored….

  • * * * *

What about Hal? His report is A+, too. He’s armed with new topics to joke about.

He’s bragging about having something in common with Adam. “We both gave up ribs, but Eve’s old man did it without pain medicine!”

Hal’s a case, isn’t he? I’ve known that since we were in college together at Howard Payne. He was a decent football player and a good student—a man whose life merits modeling. Maybe others can “go to school” on what he’s done. Just don’t try to mimic his humor. I mean, who else would claim kidneys so healthy you’d have to beat ‘em to death with a boat oar?...

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email:newbury@speakerdoc.com Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com

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