TODAY'S PAPER
68° Good Morning
68° Good Morning
NewsHealth

Selden man to get kidney from friend

Matthew Botchler, 37, who is in late-stage kidney

Matthew Botchler, 37, who is in late-stage kidney failure, will undergo a transplant at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, where Alexandria Lawson, 32, traveling by bus from Virginia Beach, Virginia, will give her healthy organ to him. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan / Megan McIver

A Selden man who desperately needs a kidney to save his life says the stars have aligned in his favor: A friend will donate her right kidney to him on Tuesday in a double surgery coincidentally timed with the season of giving.

Matthew Botchler, 37, who is in late-stage kidney failure, will undergo the operation at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, where Alexandria Lawson, 32, traveling by bus from Virginia Beach, Virginia, will give her healthy organ to him. Lawson is the lifelong friend of Megan McIver, Botchler's fiancee. The two women were Southold neighbors as children.

The gift of a living organ provides an encouraging new chapter in Botchler's life story, which has been rife with fear and uncertainty, he said.

"I am really excited," Botchler said of the operation that will allow him, finally, to think of life in terms of the decades to come. "Alex is Megan's best friend. They lived across the street from each other. They've known each other since they were kids."

McIver, 32, who has been caregiver as well as fiancee, said Tuesday will mark a major turning point. "This is the last step and we can move on with our lives," she said Friday. "Once I know that the operation was successful for both Matt and Alex, I will be ecstatic."

Lawson, who has the O-positive blood type that Botchler required and the subtler biological markers that doctors insist upon for a perfect donor/recipient match, strongly believes divine providence led her to be tested.

A note to our community:

As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.

SUBSCRIBE

Cancel anytime

"Last November I lost my job; I was laid off," Lawson said of her position as a project manager for a construction company in Virginia. The episode caused her to sob continuously for two days. "Then, I started to think about what I wanted to do and whether I wanted to come back to New York. I came home for the holidays and stayed with Matt and Megan for Christmas."

That's when she saw the struggles involved with end-stage kidney disease, Botchler sleeping in a chair because he had to stay upright and McIver's nonstop efforts to keep her fiance comfortable.

"If God didn't want me to help, he wouldn't have put me on this path," Lawson said. "I really believe this is what I am supposed to be doing. I am so eager to see him have a happy life. I am eager to see them move on and get married."

Botchler, a New York City employee who inspects manholes, had issued an appeal earlier this year -- an urgent one -- for an organ donor. Mount Sinai doctors had told him that he would be an excellent candidate for a kidney transplant. Their encouraging words, however, came with caveats.

A cadaver kidney, according to his doctors, wouldn't be ideal because of his complex medical history. The catch: He would have to find a living donor himself because it's unethical for hospitals to conduct such searches. He appealed through a personal website and told his story to the media, but without much luck.

Having secured a compatible donor, Botchler is among the country's luckier kidney patients. Nationally, nearly 100,000 people need kidneys but there are not enough living or cadaver organs to meet the demand -- and many people die waiting. Earlier this year, Julia Rivera of the New York Donor Network said the state's kidney patients generally wait longer than their counterparts elsewhere in the country. About 10 percent of all people in need of kidneys nationwide reside in New York, Rivera said.

Botchler has been battling medical problems since infancy. He was born with a rare condition known as exstrophy of the bladder. His bladder developed outside the pelvic region and was so small it had to be removed when he was a child.

A surgeon rerouted Botchler's urinary function through the large intestine, a change that worked well throughout most of his life. But two years ago he wound up with colon cancer, a likely consequence of that operation, his doctors said. In June, his kidneys, which were small and functioned poorly, were removed at Mount Sinai. He is on dialysis to cleanse his blood.

Botchler said he's grateful to Lawson, who recently started a nonprofit to help the homeless and newly released prisoners find jobs.

"She is the best friend anyone could ever have," he said. "Absolutely the best."

A note to our community:

As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.

SUBSCRIBE

Cancel anytime

Health