Payson woman to donate kidney to help husband receive one in 4-way swap

March 30, 2019

On May 1, Tayler Pierce of Payson will finally get what he has been hoping for — a new kidney. He won’t be the only member of his family who will be having surgery that day, however. At the same time, his wife, Spencer Pierce, will be having one of her kidneys removed and sent to Minnesota where another patient is awaiting a transplant.

It is his wife’s donation that is making the transplant for the 28-year-old father of two possible.

At the age of 23, Tayler Pierce was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease. This degenerative condition can cause the kidneys to reduce their ability to filter toxins from blood, which may eventually lead to kidney failure.

This was the road Tayler Pierce was on, when in January 2018, his kidney function had decreased to 20 percent. While the news of the disease progressing was not what the family had hoped for, it did qualify him to be put on the Intermountain Healthcare transplant list to be able to receive a new kidney.

This, the family was told, could take up to 3-5 years, and in the meantime, Tayler Pierce began the process of dialysis. Four days a week, three hours each time, he was hooked up to a dialysis machine that would filter his kidneys — a process he described as extremely time consuming and draining.

“Being on dialysis has been very limiting,” he said. “There are places you want to go and things you want to do as a family, but we need to leave early so I can go home. If we go anywhere, there are things I need to take with me. Then there’s the constant wondering about when it will be done or if it will ever be over.”

Tayler Pierce was quick to acknowledge that he isn’t the only one who has suffered through this process.

“What some people don’t realize when they see someone suffering, is that it doesn’t just affect the person, but the people around them,” he said. “My wife has had it pretty hard. It’s almost like she has it, too. She has to stay up with me to do dialysis and paperwork. She has to do so much, and she has been so incredible to deal with all that has been happening without any complaints.”

Not only has Spencer Pierce been right by her husband’s side helping him with his treatments, but she has been busy trying to find him a transplant.

“When Tayler became qualified to receive a transplant, we worked hard to get the word out,” Spencer Pierce said. “We had several friends and family members who checked to see if they would be a match. Tayler’s mom, Melanie, also organized a fundraiser during Payson’s Onion Days and she set up an account at Mountain America that really helped a us to prepare for the financial struggles ahead.”

Even with so many people working to find a kidney for Tayler Pierce, the family was coming up blank, and they were running out of options. In December, however, the transplant team let them know about a nationwide donor exchange program. In this program, transplant recipients with live donors willing to swap their donor organ, can swap with another recipient who they are more compatible with. This gives patients a higher chance of not only receiving a kidney, but one that their body has a higher chance of accepting.

When Spencer Pierce heard about the program, she jumped at the chance to see if she would qualify, and soon found that she and her husband would be able to be part of a four-way kidney swap.

“I love this program because I am helping Tayler as well as someone else in the process,” Spencer Pierce said. “Tayler is the most caring person you’ll ever meet. Through all of this, he has continued to work his full-time job, and has tried to maintain a normal life with our boys, taking them to mountains and out camping.

“If I can better his life through this so he can do more of what he loves, there is no reason I shouldn’t do it.”

Even with the official OK from the donor team, Spencer Pierce still had one obstacle she had to overcome — her husband.

“Tayler was against me doing this because he didn’t want me to get hurt,” she said.

Tayler Pierce agreed.

“It is a little bit scary to think of her getting hurt,” he said. “This surgery is going to take a while for her to recover from, and she’ll be left with a pretty big scar. But I am grateful that she’s willing and able to do this, and a little daunted knowing that we’ll be having surgery on the same day.”

As the couple gets ready for the upcoming procedures, they said they have several family members ready to help in the days and weeks following, which they are grateful for. All of them are look forward to spending more time together as a family, which Tayler Pierce said will include more camping, participating in the deer hunt this fall, and maybe even taking their kids to Legoland.

For updates on Tayler’s progress, follow, Kidney4Tayler on Faceboo k. Donations can also be made to the family at Mountain America under Kidney For Tayler.