Seymour man receives kidney transplant after benefit ride, donations raise money


A phone call Matt Bruemmer received around 10 a.m. Jan. 21 changed his life forever.

Janel Lee with Indiana University Health in Indianapolis called to tell Bruemmer to be there that afternoon to start preparation for a kidney transplant.

The Seymour man was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, or Berger’s disease, when he was 21 and has taken blood pressure medicine daily ever since.

The kidney disease occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin A lodges in a person’s kidneys, resulting in inflammation that over time may hamper the kidneys’ ability to filter wastes from blood, according to There is no cure, but certain medications can slow its course. Keeping blood pressure under control and reducing cholesterol levels also slow disease progression, according to the website.

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Bruemmer later was able to return to his job at Cummins in Seymour, but in 2015, his kidneys started to give out. His doctor put him on steroids to help them run better, but that ended up damaging his hips.

Since then, he has undergone six surgeries, including two to replace his hips, and received kidney dialysis three days a week for four hours at a time.

Bruemmer also went through testing to be put on a kidney donor list. Last year, he found out he needed $6,000 to be put on the active list.

Fortunately, through a benefit motorcycle ride and other donations from people, he raised the money he needed.

“I was overwhelmed with joy just that there’s that many people out there that actually care,” said Bruemmer, who turns 36 on Friday. “It really means a lot.”

Then it was a waiting game until Lee, his kidney transplant coordinator, called.

“At that moment, I was just in awe and really in shock,” Bruemmer said. “I was waiting to wake up from a dream. My whole body was shaking. My hands were shaking. It was just crazy.”

Lee asked Bruemmer if he would accept the kidney, and he gave her a quick answer.

“Of course, I said, ‘Yes,'” he said.

He was told to be in Indianapolis around 3 p.m. that day.

“I just remember I packed a bag and was ready to go,” Bruemmer said.

After sharing the good news with his son, Mikel, Bruemmer went to Indianapolis with his mother, father and stepfather.

There, nurses took down his vitals, drew blood and did some other lab work to make sure he was still healthy.

The next morning, Dr. William Goggins came into Bruemmer’s room to tell him everything was good to go for the transplant surgery.

Bruemmer said he was “terribly nervous,” but the doctor and his team helped put his mind at ease.

“When I got in the actual surgery room, all of the people in there, they were real friendly, and they all introduced themselves,” Bruemmer said. “We pretty well carried on a casual conversation for a few minutes, and that was real relaxing. That kind of helped. If I was just laying there and they were all doing their thing, I would have been a lot more nervous.”

Going into the surgery, Bruemmer said he knew what to expect because he had gone through an educational course. That information was shared again at the hospital.

Both of his kidneys were bad, and he was told they would remain in place, and the transplanted kidney would be put in the area of his stomach. He learned he could live with one kidney.

Bruemmer said the surgery took about four hours.

“I was definitely relieved that the surgery was over,” he said. “I felt pretty good afterwards, really. The staff there, they took real good care of me and were real comforting.”

He remained in the hospital until the afternoon of Jan. 27.

“Every day, they would take labs, and the main thing was like my electrolytes would be low some days from where I was actually urinating it all out just where the kidney and my body had to come together,” he said. “Now, it’s kind of leveling out here finally. All of my electrolytes are coming back up and my phosphorus.”

He had to go to Indianapolis three times the following week and then twice a week for a month for checkups to make sure everything is working fine.

Beyond that, he will have checkups a couple of times a year for the rest of his life.

He said he’s OK with that. At least he doesn’t have to do kidney dialysis anymore.

“It’s a big burden lifted,” he said with a relieved smile. “It was definitely routine, but it’s not like I enjoyed the routine at all.”

He will be able to live a more normal life.

“Right now, I’m just looking forward to my son and I being able to go on vacation this year or at least travel a little bit, do something together,” Bruemmer said.

He also will be able to do his hobbies, including hunting and fishing. The only thing he was told to avoid is contact sports because if he gets hit in the stomach area, it could damage the transplanted kidney.

In the fall, he can get back to attending Mikel’s football practices and games.

“Before, his games would sometimes fall on dialysis days, and I really couldn’t go out there and watch him,” Bruemmer said.

He went to the Jackson Bowl game between Brownstown Central and Seymour this past season, but he had dialysis that day and didn’t feel the greatest, he said.

Bruemmer also wants to start working again. Before his health issues, he had worked at Cummins for 10 years.

Once he gets through all of his checkups, he said he plans to begin applying for jobs.

“I definitely want to go back to work. It will be nice to get out of the house for a change,” he said, smiling.

Before his transplant, he could only drink 32 ounces of liquid a day, and it couldn’t be dark fluids or anything high in phosphorus, metal, potassium or calcium.

Now, he is supposed to drink at least 4 liters of water a day to keep water flushing through the kidney, he said.

“Other than that, there’s really no restrictions,” he said of eating or drinking.

When the time is right, Bruemmer said he wants to meet the family of his donor. The only thing he knows is it’s from a deceased man who was younger than him.

He was given papers to write to the man’s family, and if both parties agree to meet, an IU Health coordinator will make it happen.

“I’m sure it would bring up bad memories for them, but I hope it would be good, too, that for their loss, it brought a gain of life for someone else,” Bruemmer said. “If they are more than willing, I would love to meet them and show them how grateful I am.”

Bruemmer said he would encourage people to register to be a donor because their kidneys or other organs could help save someone else’s life.

“For someone that has been in my shoes, it’s a rough life going through dialysis three days a week,” he said. “Those three days, you really feel like crap. You don’t feel good at all. I could only drink 32 ounces of fluids a day. You have to watch what you eat. Going on vacation, it’s almost impossible because every other day, you’re going to dialysis.”

According to, IU Health Transplant is the largest, most comprehensive center of its kind in the region and the fourth largest by volume in the United States.

The center has 50 years of experience performing kidney transplants and performs more than 200 each year, according to the website.

The Living Donor Champion Program offers patients the tools to assist them in identifying a living kidney donor.

“For those who have identified someone willing to donate but are blood-type incompatible, we have extensive experience in paired donation within our own center and also work closely with nationally recognized paired donation programs,” according to the website. “Paired donation provides the opportunity for patients to find the best matched donor.”

Living kidney donors save lives and help improve another person’s quality of life for years to come, the center said.

“While a potential donor frequently has a connection to the recipient, such as family or friend, a donor may not know the recipient at all,” according to the website. “Nondirected donors come forward every year to donate because they feel called to help after learning about someone in need of a kidney transplant.”

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To donate a kidney or other organ through Indiana University Health Transplant, the process begins by submitting a confidential online donor evaluation form at or calling a living donor nurse coordinator at 800-382-4602.

All communication between the transplant center and a potential donor is confidential.

Information also may be obtained by emailing [email protected].


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