Thiwat Thiwat, 21, a former basketball standout on the
Thiwat struggled with declining health through his first year in college and didn't play ball. As his kidney function deteriorated, he returned to
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In May, he completed his sophomore year at
Days after Thiwat's story appeared in
The story and others that followed spurred many calls and email messages from people as far away as
"The amount of support I had was ridiculous," he said Thursday during an interview. "I felt like the whole state was behind me."
But the timing was off, because Thiwat's MaineCare paperwork was still being processed, his health hadn't quite stabilized and he wasn't officially on the transplant list.
By the time he became eligible for the transplant, he said Thursday, those potential donors haven't yet been tested, leaving him frustrated.
His two sisters were tested, and one is a match -- but she's pregnant and couldn't donate for nearly a year, he said.
"There's a lot I want to do with my future, while I'm still healthy or relatively healthy," he said.
Throughout the summer, Thiwat completed two classes, despite sitting through dialysis three days per week from
Last week, Thiwat began a full slate of classes at SMCC, including sports psychology, and has been feeling pretty good most days, though dialysis sometimes leaves him crampy and sometimes he gets depressed about the wait for a transplant.
"It's a roller coaster," Thiwat said Thursday. "As soon as this thing started, I told myself to have a level head, to be patient and let people come to their own terms about what they could do to help."
Thiwat is convinced the dozens of people who offered to be tested simply aren't receiving the emails the Maine Transplant Program has sent out. He has shared the program's phone number with some of them and a few are due to be tested, but he's hoping to reach everyone who contacted him earlier.
The donor's evaluation, surgery and follow-up care is covered by the recipient's insurance, according to the Maine Transplant Program.
Even if someone is not a match for Thiwat, through kidney exchange programs, that person could donate a kidney to another patient and an "exchange" kidney could be arranged from another living donor.
A successful transplant would allow him to move forward full-speed with college, maybe basketball, and return some of the good will he's been offered by Mainers.
"Hopefully I can go back to
To learn more about being tested to donate a kidney, visit the Maine Transplant Program website at mmc.org/living-donation#link1 or call 207-662-7180.
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