June 7, 2010 - Until last year, Nathan Gutierrez, 27, spent most of his college career not feeling well. First there were the flu symptoms, throwing up, fevers, chills. Then came
the diagnosis of kidney failure and subsequent dialysis regimen. That meant more throwing up, severe cramping, and exhaustion.
Then one day after a dialysis treatment, just getting to class took every ounce of energy he could muster. He wheeled across campus (born with spina bifida,
Gutierrez is unable to walk) and stopped outside his classroom building.
"I was seeing spots. My heart was racing. I thought I was going to pass out," he said.
He did what he had always done. He sucked it up and went to class. But it would be his last for some time.
"I left school for a year and a half," he said. "I would do dialysis, then go home and sit by myself, with my two dogs. I was so upset that I didn't even cry. But most of the time I did a lot of prayer."
The only way off the dialysis and back to school was a kidney transplant. But Gutierrez learned that it could take years of waiting on a list until his turn came up and a compatible donor was found.
So he persuaded his insurance company to allow him to try a new procedure, in which anyone could be his donor, even if they were incompatible. On March 24, 2009, Gutierrez received a new kidney from his father.
"Physically, I felt better the minute I woke up (from surgery)," Gutierrez said. His body happily accepted the kidney and after a month of monitoring and tests, he was allowed to leave his temporary home in Los Angeles (the transplant took place at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center) and return to Bakersfield.
He also returned to school that fall, and with just five classes left to finish, he completed his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a sports
management concentration, in March 2010 - just one year after his transplant.
While at CSUB, Gutierrez has served on the student advisory committee for Services for Students with Disabilities. At the end of June, his job as a marketing assistant for the CSUB Athletics Department comes to an end. He's been job hunting and also practicing his public speaking skills as president of a local Toastmasters club.
"I love sports marketing, but I really want to be a professional public speaker, to talk about my experiences and motivate others to overcome their challenges," he said.
Gutierrez encourages people to visit his website to learn more about his story and incompatible transplants: www.aboincompatibletransplants.com.
For more information:
Media ContactColleen Dillaway, Director of Public Affairs & Communications