LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Local resident Nick Sauter has been a pillar of the community for countless years and has touched the lives of so many as a former vice principal, former teacher, and former football and track coach at Passaic Valley High School.
As an active member of St. Agnes Episcopal Church in Little Falls, he's been a member of the vestry, and is involved with the church's food pantry for many years. He's helped countless local families who are struggling to get the assistance they need.
Now retired, he recently found himself in need - of a kidney transplant. Now his family and friends are looking to get the word out.
A graduate of the class of 1973 at PV, and Rutgers University in 1977, Sauter discovered he was in need of a kidney last year, according to his sister-in-law Donna Tissot. His doctors noticed his blood levels kept going down for a few years during kidney function tests. As of right now, he is at end stage renal failure. His family believes taking anti-inflammatory prescription medications overtime due to pain issues from football injuries, may have contributed to his kidney failure.
"Nick started dialysis this past January. He goes in three times a week for four and a half hours," Tissot explained. "It started as a surgical procedure with a neck catheter until the surgical procedure of an arteriovenous fistula in his arm, which matured. He's been going through an ordeal but never complains and tries to keep positive."
For those who are dependent on dialysis, life is very grim and challenging, and time is of the essence to find a healthy kidney in order to lead a normal existence.
Tissot added that finding a donor can also be challenging due to stringent guidelines. Besides finding a blood and tissue match, there are other factors that a donor needs to be screened for, such as blood pressure, medical background, heart condition, and any medications a donor may be on.
Tissot also said that there is a multi-step process towards becoming a donor. Once someone is interested in being a donor, they will meet with the clinical coordinator at St. Barnabas Hospital, located in Livingston, to fill out some paperwork. If deemed as a good candidate, an appointment would be set up for that candidate to meet with a team at the hospital in order to have one-on-one meetings.
"You would meet with a nurse, a nutritionist, social worker, psychologist and the surgeon," she said. "If they felt that the possible donor was okay, they would then see if there is a match."
As a blood type A-, Sauter's donor can also be type A-, as well as O-, A+ and O+ blood types.
"We don't have anyone at this point that's being considered as a living donor," Tissot said. "Nick is really going through a lot and without dialysis, he wouldn't be alive, so that's why it's urgent to get a living donor as soon as possible. He's praying for a live donor. He has so much to live for. His third grandchild was just born in March and it's his hope that he can enjoy watching all of his grandchildren grow up."
Tissot also said that Sauter and his family have been encouraging him to stay positive. He was recently signed up on the kidney donor waiting lists at both New York-Presbyterian University Hospital and at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania.
"There are those who have been waiting for years, not only for a live donor, but in order to receive a kidney from someone who passed away," she noted. "So I'm happy we got Nick registered at those two hospitals as well, in addition to St. Barnabas."
As of now, Tissot and the rest of the Sauter family are looking to reach out to the community in order to get the word out.
"My sister Debbie, who is Nick's wife, has her tough days but she's staying very positive and is very supportive of him. His niece, Kelly Booth, and I have reached out to our friends and we've been putting out fliers as well," she further added. "I've been on my computer getting information out to different businesses as well, and their response has been very kind and they're willing to share the information on the web and at their establishments."
She added that family and friends continue to receive lots of good feedback.
"There are so many nice comments they say about Nick," she said. "He has a heart of gold and shares it with so many people in his life. It is with much hope and prayer that we find a donor for him as soon as possible."
"I, as well as the Sauter family, offer our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has taken the time to receive our message, and we thank everyone so much."