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Kidney Transplant Leads Jason Whitman to Wallace

9/27/2019

Dothan, Ala.— Jason Whitman was given a second chance at life and a career when he received a new kidney last year. When Whitman was 19 and serving in the Marines, he learned that he had Polycystic Kidney Disease. The disease, which causes cysts to form in the kidneys and slowly decreases their function, first showed up when he was doing exercises in the Marines.
“When I got out of the Marines … I decided to just go in to the job field instead of going back to school,” Whitman said. “I’ve done a little bit of everything.”
From construction to textiles to making deliveries, Whitman stayed busy working. Once his kidneys started to fail, and knowing he would need a kidney transplant, Whitman saw his time in those fields was limited. So he enrolled at Wallace Community College-Dothan.
Whitman began classes at Wallace in fall of 2017 with a goal of working in management.
“My wife (Shawna Whitman) started here a few years back, and seeing her get two degrees … kind of pushed me and gave me the nudge that I needed to come back,” Jason said. “The first couple of weeks it was a shock. Most classes I go in, I’m the oldest person in there.”

Jason said the last three years of not being able to work have been hard and returning to school was the best decision for him and his future.

“Because of Wallace, I’ll be able to get back out in the work force. I’ve been three years now out of work with the dialysis and the transplant and recovering from that,” Jason said. “That’s one thing that Wallace has provided for me too, to be able to get out of the house and be able to talk to people.”
Knowing he had the disease, Jason went for checkups every so often to see at what percentage his kidneys were functioning. While making a delivery at work one day, Jason had an accident and it revealed his kidney problems had worsened.
“It was raining one day and I was on the lift gate and I slipped. It was fully elevated and I fell five feet and hit the concrete on my side,” Jason said. “That ruptured some of the cysts and I went to the doctor to get everything checked out and that’s when they found out that my percentage was so low.”
In one week alone, they dropped from 15 percent to 10 percent and he had to begin dialysis.
He was going to need a kidney transplant.
Shawna created a Facebook page to try to find him a donor. That’s when their friend Misty Hale stepped in. She knew the couple, and knew what Jason was going through and wanted to see if she could help.
“I saw on Facebook where he was going through dialysis and things and that’s when he found out that he needed a kidney transplant,” Hale said. “I have always thought that if you could help somebody, to just help them.”
Hale drove to Birmingham to undergo multiple tests to see if she was a match for Jason. It turns out she was, but she said she knew it all along.
“I cried. I was definitely super excited, not just the possibility that I could help, but I already had that feeling that I was a match,” Hale said. “It was already meant to be in my head and I was super excited to tell Jason and Shawna.”
Jason and Hale underwent the surgery in 2018. Both of his kidneys were removed, and has since been doing well with his new kidney.
Hale said she is cheering Jason on in his journey at Wallace.
“It’s incredibly exciting for me. I’m rooting for him,” Hale said. “Me and him have kind of done that together. It’s like a piece of me [is there too]. Now I’m invested in what’s to become of him and his future.”
Jason is set to graduate this December with a degree in Supervisory Management.

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