Scratching at the edge; one man’s story of kidney failure and the woman who saved him

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Danny Saxton was a young man dying of kidney failure with a wife and a 7-year-old daughter, but he found his superhero right in his own backyard.

“I thought I was going to die,” Saxton said with tears in his eyes.

His doctors told him he wouldn’t make it to Christmas.

“So, we were all kind of prepared for that,” Saxton said.

Danny Saxton’s journey to survival began two and a half years ago when he was competing as a bodybuilder. Then he got sick.

“It felt like I was drowning in fluid,” Saxton explained.

He was no stranger to bulking up and shedding pounds, so he said he thought this was just a part of that process, but he got checked just to be safe. That’s when his doctor told him he was in the very early stages of kidney failure. His doctor gave him a positive outlook and suggested it would be awhile before he felt any effects.

“I was told it would probably be before I’m 50 that I would need a transplant,” Saxton said.

But Danny Saxton’s condition worsened much faster than his doctors had previously thought. A likely reason is because Saxton is diabetic.

“It makes you wonder when you’re time is up,” Saxton said.

His family and friends offered to donate their kidney to save his life. He said, in total, over 100 people signed up to help him out.

“I was touched,” Saxton said.

But because of undisclosed medical conditions, high blood pressure and a host of other reasons, not one of those people could donate their kidney to Danny Saxton.

“Every little thing you can get disqualified for,” Saxton explained.

In the summer of 2018, Saxton and his family moved to Caledonia, Ill. where his parents lived. The goal was to be closer so they could help his wife Nikki with Danny’s deteriorating condition.

“My parents put their life on hold because I was getting sicker and sicker,” Saxton said.

That’s when Danny’s 7-year-old daughter, Giovanna, met Colleen Blaney, a neighbor a few doors down. Blaney had volunteered at the Caledonia Congregational Church for a summer camp. The Church is mere blocks from both Saxton’s and Blaney’s homes.

“Everybody in the neighborhood knows my daughter,” Danny said with a smile.

Colleen and Giovanna became fast friends and, eventually, she told Blaney her dad was in need of a kidney transplant.

Blaney’s niece previously donated a kidney to a stranger and Blaney realized this was her chance.

“I didn’t think it was a coincidence that I’m living on the same block of someone who needed a kidney,” Blaney said.

In September, Colleen Blaney selflessly gave her kidney to Danny Saxton.

“You saved my life,” Danny said beneath tears to Blaney. “There’s no way around that, you did. You are my superhero.”

As both Danny Saxton and Colleen Blaney return to their lives, they have a message for you.

“I just hope someone sees this story and says I’m going to be an organ donor if anything ever happens to me,” Saxton said. “If one person gets saved because of this story, then I’ve done my job.”

Though Danny Saxton’s future remains uncertain, he says he’ll forever be grateful to Colleen Blaney, his superhero at the end of the block. What Danny says he received was the gift of time, which he plans to spend with his family, a reminder that organ donation doesn’t just affect the person receiving the transplant, but the whole family as well.

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