Daniel Kablutsiak has been on a mission to lose weight since his son, Hunter, 16, was diagnosed with stage 5 kidney disease in 2020. Hunter needed a new kidney and Kablutsiak volunteered to be the donor, but he had to slim down in order to be a candidate for the procedure.
After the diagnosis, Hunter started taking 10 pills a day to manage his condition, but the medication took a toll. “He’s doing just fine, but with all these pills, that drains his energy easily compared to a normal teenager,” Daniel said.
When his doctors told Hunter he needed a new kidney, Daniel emerged as the prime donor candidate, but he weighed 274 pounds and the doctors said he had to be at least 200 lbs. or less to qualify.
Hunter’s siblings were also candidates for the donation, but Daniel didn’t want his kids to have to go through life with just one kidney.
So, how did he pull it off?
Daniel said he focused on diet and exercise, which meant cutting back on sugar and running at least five kilometers every day. “I was determined. I really love him, and I put my mind into it — ‘I’m going to do it,’ and I went at it,” he said.
He finally reached his goal around 13 months into his new lifestyle and now weighs 195 pounds. The doctors called him on his birthday to confirm his status as an organ donor. The transplant is scheduled for June of this year.
Daniel and his son are both nervous about the surgery, but the news has given Hunter a new outlook on life.
“His spirit went up, his energy, and I can see the glow in his face like some kind of relief or something,” Daniel said.
His wife Francine said she couldn’t be prouder of him for rising to the occasion.
“I’d say nothing is official until the transplant is done. We are on our way there. Everything is penciled. Keeps me on my toes but glad to be going in the right direction,” she said in an email.
Daniel is determined to stay fit long after the procedure. He recently got to play hockey with his son for the first time in years after his knee started giving him trouble due to the excess weight.
He wants to inspire other would-be organ donors to make the necessary change if it means saving someone else’s life.
“Whatever it is, just put your mind into it and go for it,” he said. “If I can do it, anybody else can do it.”