By Bob Zientara (Guest Writer)
It was the year 2006 (when George W. Bush was still president) that Barron resident Brooke Lippold fell ill one day while working at St. Croix Casino.
Her legs swelled, and there was evidence of internal bleeding.
Early the next year, 2007, she was diagnosed with kidney failure. A regimen of dialysis began, and Brooke, together with her parents, Brian and Brenda, began what they hoped would be as short of a time as possible before Brooke could get a kidney transplant.
Little did they know that they would have to wait more than nine years before Brooke was healthy enough, and a donor could be located.
The family never lost faith, but things got tough at times.
“We knew (the transplant) was going to happen but certainly not like this,” Brooke said.
Brenda had to play a dual role – worrying as a parent, but comforting her daughter.
“She’d call at night, crying, (and saying) ‘Mom I can’t take it anymore,’” Brenda remembered.
Of all things, it was a video appeal on Facebook that produced the donor – Amity Peet, a resident of Canton, east of Cameron. The Lippolds said that Peet agreed to let her name be used for this story.
“It amazed me,” said Brenda Lippold. “Brooke went on Facebook and put a video online. And a lady from Cameron says OK, I’ll get tested.”
Brooke Lippold and Peet made the trip to Rochester on Brooke’s birthday, Aug. 31, 2015, and discovered that they were compatible.
Brian Lippold was a match for his daughter, “but they wanted me to take off 140 pounds,” he said. “When you get older, the first 30 or 40 pounds aren’t that hard, but the rest is very difficult.”
Brooke might have qualified for the operation sooner, but she, too, had medical complications.
“My weight was an issue at first,” said Brooke, now 32, in a Christmas Eve interview at the Barron News-Shield.
After surgery and dieting, she took off more than 130 pounds.
“After I got (the weight) taken care of, there were other medical issues that came up,” Brooke added. They included a hysterectomy and the removal of her parathyroid gland, which controls the calcium levels in the body.
Each time there was a medical issue, Brooke went off the list.
“The good thing was that when I was healthy again, I got back my same place on the (waiting) list,” she said.
The operation will start at about 8 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015 – New Year’s Eve.
The four- to five-hour operation is just the start. Brooke will remain in Rochester for three to four weeks for therapy, tests, and other procedures.
And what happens when she gets back to Barron?
“I’m getting a job for sure,” Lippold said. “And I’ll just try to be normal. I have forgotten what that’s like.”
Born and raised in Turtle Lake, Brenda and her husband, Brian, a native of the Upper Peninsula, are also the parents of Valerie Hegg, Turtle Lake, Brianna, now serving in the U.S. Army in California, Brandy, a Lutheran Social Services employee in Green Bay, and Tiffany, a stay-at-home mom who is expecting a child on April 15.
“We want to give special recognition to the community, to all of the donations we have received, and especially, Mayo Clinic (Health System),” Brian Lippold said.
Photo from News-Shield archives