Jason Bleistein, 32, Edina, kidney donor and hockey player:
Inspired by a child
I saw a story about five years on 'CCO about a child who needed a kidney transplant, and the parents were so exasperated. I just thought, 'Why couldn't I do that? Why are they having such a hard time? Why can't someone do that?' I called the hospital and tried to get tested, but I wasn't a match.
Make do with one
I wound up getting a new job and met a co-worker there. I got to know him, and he talked about his wife needing a kidney transplant. I hadn't met her at the time, but I'd known him for two or three months. I said I would do it, and it just went from there. I got tested and was a match. I just figured, why not? I have two and I only need one, so for me it was kind of a no-brainer.
What about hockey?
I did a lot of research, and in the interview [with doctors], my No. 1 concern was that I wouldn't be able to play hockey after. Hockey's just something I enjoy, it's a good stress relief. I would have been devastated if I did this and couldn't play again. But now I don't feel any different. It's not as bad as what people think.
Back to the arena
I recovered pretty quickly. The support from my family and friends was a big part. And I was up and doing stuff -- I made myself go for walks and started running. I didn't want to go back to playing hockey and be this big couch potato. I skated six weeks later and played goalie, which is what I normally play, eight weeks after.
On and off the ice
I joined this team about five years ago. There's a lot of the guys that I'm really close to who have been around the whole five years. They came to the hospital, and it was pretty touching. It's just good to be one of the guys. You kind of forget everything else outside the world, or outside the locker room -- that's kind of how I think of it. I think it's good for me and good for everybody to have that. I don't know where I'd be without them.
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