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Marine Corps veteran donates kidney to San Antonio father

KSAT story prompted David Campos to offer Shawn Turk one of his kidneys

SAN ANTONIO – Shawn Turk got the call that would change his life as he was driving home from one of his tri-weekly dialysis appointments.

"It took my breath away," Turk remembers.

On the other end was a stranger, David Campos, offering to give Turk a gift that could return his life to normal after months of hours-long dialysis appointments. He was offering to give Turk one of his kidneys.

"Being a dad myself, you know, I try to help out as much as I could, especially because Shawn has a 3 year-old boy, and I know what it's like to have a three-year-old boy myself," said Campos, a father of three.

Campos’s offer was the answer to a prayer that began in September 2017 when Turk, who had been constantly exhausted and frequently vomiting, found himself diagnosed with IgA nephropathy. The illness, also known as Berger's disease, can affect the kidneys' ability to filter blood, according to the Mayo Clinic, which was the case for Turk.

"They found out that my kidney function was below 5 percent," Turk recalled

His wife, Emily, said a biopsy revealed that number was even lower - below 2 percent - and doctors "pretty much considered him a medical miracle because he should have actually died."

Though he didn't die, Turk did need to start dialysis three times a week. Because of how advanced the disease was, medication wasn't an option, the Turks said. He would need a kidney transplant.

They first looked amongst family and friends, but were unable to find a suitable donor. So, earlier this year, they tried a different tactic.

After seeing other success stories of people looking for kidneys with public pleas, the Turks got a magnetic ad for the back of their truck, reading "Young Father Needs a Kidney, O Positive, Share your spare" with Shawn Turk's phone number.

"I told my wife, 'worst case scenario, no one calls,'" Turk said.

At first, no one did, but the magnet did catch the eye of a viewer who sent a photo into KSAT 12, prompting an online story, including an interview with Emily Turk, on June 1.

The article caught Campos's eye that same day as he looked through the KSAT 12 app.

"I must have read it at least five, six times over and over again. I looked up the disease," Campos remembered. "My wife got home, and I asked her about it, and she said 'if that's what you feel like that's your calling, then go ahead and do it.'"

"Getting out of the Marines in 2012, I lost that sense of purpose for a while, and it took a long time to find it. So when I saw this news article, it's like 'cool man, I can still serve in some kind of way.’"

Though others called Turk, as well, Campos was the first. Roughly a month later, Campos said, they found he was a match for Turk.

The pair went into surgery in October, a little more than a year after Turk was diagnosed, and left with a lifelong bond.

"Not only was he my donor, he's also a family member now," Turk said of Campos.

Campos said Turk has come to church with his family a few times and they all go to Sea World "quite a bit now."

"It's awesome," Campos said. "Gaining a lifelong friend for sure."

Turk has gained a fuller and healthier life as well. Though Turk and his wife said dialysis would have kept him alive, it would have caused complications for him later on.

Whereas, Emily Turk said from what doctors have told them, the Berger's disease shouldn't come back now that her husband has his new kidney.

"David saved my husband's life," she said.


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