Doug Zirkle preaches in March at the Mission of Grace Baptist Church in Hayden.

Scott Franz/file

Doug Zirkle preaches in March at the Mission of Grace Baptist Church in Hayden.

Hayden preacher scheduled for kidney transplant Wednesday

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— The modest Hayden preacher who found it difficult to ask for help is scheduled to receive a potentially life-saving kidney transplant Wednesday from a member of his church.

Mission of Grace Baptist Church elder Kevin Kleckler said preacher Doug Zirkle was driving to Denver on Tuesday along with parishioner Mike Markle, who is donating one of his kidneys. Their surgeries are scheduled Wednesday morning at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Markle is expected to be released from the hospital within a couple of days, but Zirkle could be recovering for three to six weeks.

“I’d say their moods are anxious but peaceful at the same time,” said Kleckler, who has been keeping in contact with the men. “It’s a major surgery.”

Zirkle was diagnosed in 1980 with Type 1 diabetes, which typically inflicts otherwise healthy children and young adults and is managed with insulin. Zirkle’s need for a kidney transplant arose after a heart attack in September 2010. Zirkle was placed on the donor list in November 2011, but he and his wife, Lisa Zirkle, were told it might be five years before a kidney would be available from a deceased donor. Doug Zirkle was told his best option was to receive a kidney from a living person who would be willing to donate one, but Zirkle was reluctant to ask for help.

Word got out about the preacher's medical needs, and the congregation raised about $35,000 to help its pastor through the ordeal. Kleckler said he knew several people in the community who went through the process of seeing whether they had a kidney that Zirkle’s body would accept.

“Mike happened to be a match,” Kleckler said.

It was not known Tuesday why Markle decided to step forward.

Kleckler said Markle, an avid cyclist, underwent many tests and procedures during the past six months to prepare for the surgery. The process had been kept mostly private, and the church congregation did not find out Markle was the donor until a couple of weeks ago, Kleckler said.

Throughout the illness, Zirkle has been able to continue his duties at the church.

“He's been able to preach nearly every Sunday,” Kleckler said. “He rallies.”

Kleckler said updates about the surgeries and how Zirkle is doing will be posted to the church’s Facebook page.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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