Jim Urtel Jr., a resident of Batavia, New York, has been forced to give up his passion for horses and harness racing due to kidney failure. Urtel, who fell in love with horses at the age of 12 and had been operating a small stable with his father, was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2012 and spent eight years on dialysis before receiving a transplant from a deceased donor in 2020. Unfortunately, the kidney did not function as expected, and Urtel is now in need of another transplant. Despite this setback, Urtel draws inspiration from the horses that were a significant part of his life and remains positive as he awaits another kidney transplant.
Urtel’s journey began 11 years ago when he visited the emergency room, thinking he had bronchitis. Instead, he was shocked to learn about his complete kidney failure and high blood pressure. Prior to his diagnosis, Urtel had been training horses and was introduced to racing by his father. Urtel now focuses on maintaining his health and has lost over 50 pounds through a fitness plan. He is currently working with the non-profit organization, Kidneys for Communities, in the hopes of finding a living kidney donor.
Kidneys for Communities aims to connect living donors and recipients by leveraging the power of shared communities such as family, friends, colleagues, and faith-based institutions. The organization provides support and benefits packages to prospective donors, allowing matches to be made from a pool of pairs in the same situation. Kidneys for Communities emphasizes that any form of kidney donation is the highest form of gift one can give. Urtel’s case serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of organ donation and the impact it can have on someone’s life.