Plymouth resident Skip Sturtz has always wanted to help others. Over the years, Sturtz, 58, has wondered to what extent he would go to save another person’s life. He talks about people who jump into burning buildings to save someone, “I would always wonder, would I be that person? Sturtz says he always wanted to be that person, but was never sure if he would be.
Sturtz will be saving someone’s life—he is scheduled for surgery in November to have a kidney removed for a nondirected donation—meaning that he will be donating anonymously to an unknown recipient. Some time after the surgery, donor and recipient can meet if the desire is mutual. Sturtz says he hopes to be able to meet the recipient, but understands if the recipient declines.
Sturtz says that there are websites for people who are looking for a kidney donor. “I looked at them, but it was too sad,” he says. “It’s heartbreaking to read the stories. How do you choose? I decided leave the decision to the professionals.”
Sturtz’s path to becoming a kidney donor began in 2014 when he retired after almost 33 years in the corporate world. Sturtz says, “I immediately began to pursue my passion for art. So, I practiced, drew home portraits and landscapes for free and started inc2ink art. I like seeing people smile they see the drawing I made of their home.” He says that he thought he would be content in retirement doing his art and continuing to run marathons with his wife, but he felt a calling to do more. “I had a dream of doing something significant, something that would be life-changing for someone.”
Sturtz’s neighbor Ron, who was his mentor for many years, helped him make the decision. “Ron is a deeply spiritual person, and he helped me understand the spiritual aspect of being a donor,” Sturtz says. “I want to live by the verse in Second Corinthians in the New Testament—‘Each man should give what he decides in his heart to give. Not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.’ Focusing on my belief in God puts my mind at ease. My spirituality makes me happy to do it.”
Sturtz says that while there is some risk to kidney donation, it’s no higher than that of an appendectomy, and there is no change in life expectancy for the donor. He chose Mayo because of its international reputation for excellence. Sturtz says that unlike running into a burning building, “I get to fulfill my dream of saving a life, and I’ll be surrounded by the best medical professionals in the world.”
Sturtz hopes that his story will inspire others. “Life expectancy is much higher for someone who receives a kidney from a living donor.” Sturtz says he feels a calling to build awareness about organ donation, and hopes that by sharing his story, other people may think about becoming donors.
Sturtz and his wife live a healthy lifestyle, he says. They exercise, eat well and don’t smoke or drink. “I feel fortunate be in good health and to be able to pass on the gift of health to someone in need.”
To learn more about Sturtz’s art, go to ink2inc.com.