Don Toy, right, shown with tennis player Jack Burger, is scheduled to receive a kidney transplant today on the Front Range. The organ will come from Steamboat Springs resident Larry Handing.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
How to donate
Steamboat Tennis Tenacious Toy bracelets are available in exchange for donations at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. Those who want to make donations directly to Toy can do so in his name at the Tennis Center by calling 970-879-8400, or through the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association by calling 970-879-1632.
Steamboat Springs Don Toy and Larry Handing are small-town guys with small-town values.
Neither likes much attention, both enjoying the subtleties of the community they live in. But it’s hard to not recognize them both at this point, especially when something like this happens.
Toy, who has been battling polycystic kidney disease, needed a transplant because his kidney was functioning at less than 20 percent. At 15 percent kidney function, Toy would have had to begin dialysis.
But that’s where Handing, a longtime local CPA, came in.
Handing, after reading in the Steamboat Pilot & Today about a benefit to help Toy spread the word about polycystic kidney disease and find a possible donor in March, said the situation spoke to him. The two have been in Steamboat since the 1970s. They know each other, but not well.
Still, Handing decided that if he were a match, he’d give Toy a kidney.
“Being that he’s been here and I’ve been here — I mean, we came here for a reason,” Handing said Tuesday. “We came for the beauty of the valley and eventually stayed for the people. You see it all over the place. People are terribly generous with everything they do. It just becomes a contagious thing. With that in mind, that was one of those things, that if I can help him in any way, I was.”
In something of a Steamboat Springs miracle, Handing was tested and proved to be a match for Toy.
The two are scheduled to go into surgery early today at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora.
“I was flabbergasted that someone would do that for me,” said Toy, an assistant tennis coach at Steamboat Springs High School and longtime teaching pro. “It’s really cool it’s someone from Steamboat. It says a lot about Steamboat as a community. You can put it down for this or that, but when you find out something like this, it’s really something special.”
Both men will be in the hospital for several days.
Handing plans to return to town Oct. 8, and Toy is expected to remain in Denver for about a month to continue receiving treatment.
Toy was on a list of more than 83,000 people waiting for a kidney transplant. In 2008, 6,000 people from the national transplant list got a new kidney. The quickest way for Toy to get a kidney was for someone to donate one specifically to him.
Toy has battled the disease for the past seven years, though he largely had remained in good health.
But as the days passed, his need for a transplant became more apparent.
“I’m excited,” Toy said. “It’s funny how we’re all connected even though we don’t think we are.”
— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org