Plumber’s Compassion Helps Secure Kidney Donor

Home makeover program provides healthier environment for recipient after transplant surgery.
Plumber’s Compassion Helps Secure Kidney Donor
Pay It Forward recipient Becky Josephson (left) gives T 'N G Pluming co-owner Gina Grundmeier a hug. (Photo and video courtesy KAAL TV, Austin, Minnesota.)

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A Minnesota plumbing company’s compassion and generosity may have helped secure a kidney for an Austin woman in need of a transplant.

In March, Becky Josephson, 57, and her husband, Gary, 62, received a $40,000 home makeover as part of T ‘N G Plumbing’s Pay It Forward program. In May, a donor was found. Transplant surgery is scheduled for June 10.

“I had gone to the doctor and they wanted to start home dialysis,” Josephson says.

However, a water leak in the bathroom had caused mold, and mildew had formed on the floor, ceiling and walls — creating possible sources of infection. 

“I told them I couldn’t,” says Josephson, who has PKD (polycystic kidney disease).

That immediately changed once the makeover was complete. The couple also needed a water heater and water softener, along with new flooring in the entryway that was destroyed by their 1-year-old pup.

“It’s just a better environment for me,” Josephson says. “When I come home, there’s no longer the mold in the house.”

This is the third year for T ‘N G’s bathroom makeover program, which began as a way for co-owners Todd and Gina Grundmeier to say “thank you” to the community for the kindness it showed when their home and possessions were lost to fire in 2010.

Pay It Forward nominees must submit photos, a short essay and meet project guidelines. Financial needs are also considered.

Becky was nominated by her son Dustin and his wife, Megan.

Here is their story:

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Pay it Forward 2016

My husband and I would like to nominate his parents, Gary and Becky Josephson. Becky is going to need a kidney transplant due to having a polycystic kidney disease. Her creatinine levels are high already and if they keep going up she will need to be put on dialysis until she can get a donor. My husband went and did testing to see if he could be a donor but it turned out he won’t be able to be one. She has also had her back broken twice due to being in a few car accidents, which led to having metal rods in her back. It has taken quite a toll on her, but she still pushes herself to do things that she probably shouldn’t. Gary was recently taken off work due to arthritis in his hands. It has left him not able to do very much due to pain. He also suffers from polio in is leg from a doctor hitting his bone when he was being vaccinated while younger. He walks with a limp due to one leg being shorter than the other.

Once Becky is able to get a donor and go through surgery, she won’t be able to be exposed to mold and the rotting floor. They already have quite the load of medical bills from everything that has happened between the both of them, especially with Gary being taken off work with the possibility of not being able to go back to work. He is the one who carries the insurance, and it will be even more expensive if he is not able to return to work. Unfortunately, it is not in their financials to be able to do things that need to be done for Becky to be able to come back home once she has her kidney transplant.

It would make both of them extremely thankful and happy if they were chosen for the Pay it Forward project. They are both always willing to help other people. Gary is always willing to lend a helping hand with anything he can, whether it is helping someone fix something with their vehicle or doing some maintenance work. They are both always there for their family members. They have very few family members left living and cherish any time they get to spend with them. They are grandparents to three grandchildren, two of whom were born within the last six months. It would be a better environment for the grandchildren to be present in their house if there was not mold in the house as well.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Megan and Dustin Josephson      

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Josephson says being selected for the Pay It Forward program was better than winning the lottery.

“The love, determination and time spent for Pay It Forward has far more meaning than a lottery winning ever would,” Josephson says.

“I’m so happy that she’s going to get what she needs,” says Gina Grundmeier, who underwent the first phase of transplant screening before a donor was found.

“Here you have a lady with one sister who has the disease and has had a transplant, so she’s not compatible. Becky’s parents were only children, so there are no aunts or uncles. And her kids can’t donate because it’s a genetic disease. They’re at risk themselves.”

Grundmeier says if a donor hadn’t been found she would have gone through the second phase of screening.

“I would hope someone would do it for me,” she says.

A Go Fund Me site has been established to help Becky and her family with medical expenses. Contributions are welcomed.

See the video of Becky’s home makeover from KAAL TV in Austin:



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