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Message is written on mini van: ‘My dad is in need of a kidney’

IU Health University Hospital

Message is written on mini van: ‘My dad is in need of a kidney’

Steve Sheckles knows all too well about kidney disease – four of his five siblings have been diagnosed and two have had kidney transplants. Now, Sheckles is on the list and hoping to receive a donor.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

His daughter has had some unusual encounters – strangers stopping to talk to her at the gas station, random people taking photos of her van, and even an interview with a local newscaster. But still Steve Sheckles has not received the call that he has a viable kidney donor.

That hasn’t stopped his daughter, Kim Murray from trying. She’s a mobile advertisement for the cause. On the window of her Chrysler Town & Country mini van is the message that she hopes will answer that call: “My dad is in Need of a Kidney.” An employee of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, Murray said she got the idea from creative co-workers.

“When we met with his doctor we were told he could be on a wait list for five to seven years so I decided I needed to get the word out,” said Murray. That was two years ago.

It was in 1992 when Sheckles, a Centerville, Ind. resident, was treated for kidney stones and doctors diagnosed him with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). An inherited disorder the disease is characterized by the growth of cysts within the kidneys. Overtime, the kidneys enlarge and lose function.

Sheckles is on dialysis three times a week for four and a half hours and was listed for transplant July 13, 2017. And while he waits, he hopes - for a donor.

He and his wife, Penny have been married for 47 years. In addition to Murray, they have three other children - Lisa Schunk, Sara Sheckles, and Brett Sheckles. They also have five grandchildren. Because PKD is hereditary, doctors encouraged his children to be tested.

“I can remember me and my siblings all getting ultra sounds and blood work. None of us have it, but I have had kidney stones,” said Murray. The fact that it is hereditary also means they are not viable donors, she added.

Sheckles is the oldest of six and was the first diagnosed with PKD. Four of his five siblings have also been diagnosed; two have received kidney transplants.

At IU Health, Sheckles is in the care of Dr. Asif Sharfuddin, who specializes in nephrology and kidney disease. He is working closely with his transplant coordinator Christine Molby.

“The dialysis makes me tired and I feel like I’m missing out. I’d like to travel more and spend more time with my grandkids,” said Sheckles, who turns 75 on August 1. “It would be wonderful to have a donor. I don’t even know how to describe that feeling,” he added.

And while the family waits, Murray intends to keep driving her van, raising awareness.

“I think even after we locate a donor, I’ll keep the sign to let others know there is such a great need,” she said.

The Indiana Donor Network reports that as of February 2021, 873 Indiana residents are awaiting a kidney transplant. To learn more: indianadonornetwork.org.

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