Across the nation, citizens have the opportunity to help others by signing up to become organ and tissue donors through state donor registries. Legislation was passed in Kentucky during the 2006 legislative session, enabling Kentucky residents to have their wishes documented about donation through the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry.
Clancy Hensley, 46, of Eolia, is one of those people who has been given another chance at life through the generosity of two organ donors. He has been battling kidney disease since the age of 18.
As a child neither of Hensley’s kidneys matured as they were supposed to. He said the day before he graduated from Pound (Va.) High School, he was told he had enough poison in his body to “kill two grown men.” He was allowed to participate in his high school graduation and the following day he entered the hospital.
“I got my first kidney transplant at the age of 19,” said Hensley. “It was a cadaver kidney and lasted 11 months before my body rejected it.”
Hensley was lucky enough to get another cadaver kidney from the British of Columbia at the age of 24.
“This kidney lasted 22 years, which was wonderful, because they told me it might last five years,” said Hensley. “It was a true blessing. Now, I’m in need of another. My kidneys failed last month. I’m on a list at the University of Kentucky (UK) and trying to get on another list at University of Virginia in Charlottesville (UVA).”
Hensley said he has always worked as a truck driver and provided for his family in between transplants.
“Three years ago, the doctors made me quit working because the gout in my feet got so bad I just couldn’t go on. The gout was a result of my kidneys not filtering like they were supposed to. I was in a wheelchair for awhile,” said Hensley. “The 22 years I had the cadaver kidney have been wonderful. It gave me a somewhat normal life.”
A father to 6-year-old Dalton, Hensley said he loves being able to get outside and play with his son.
“I haven’t been able to do that lately,” said Hensley. “It just breaks my heart when he asks on a daily basis, ‘daddy, when are you going to be able to play with me again?’ More than anything I want to be able to fish, hike and camp with my little boy — things a father should be doing with a 6-year-old. I want to see him grow up, graduate, go to college and become a father himself. That’s why it’s so important to me that I get a kidney.”
Hensley’s son, Dalton, has been diagnosed with juvenile RA and is being treated at the University of Kentucky.
“My son is a true miracle and a blessing from God, because when I got his first kidney transplant I was told I would never have children,” said Hensley. “My wife, Barbara, and I have been together for the past eight years and our little boy is now 6 years old.”
Barbara said the family now lives on Social Security disability insurance and they “don’t have a lot of spare money.”
“We have been doing fundraisers to get my husband to UK and UVA for appointments. You have to have money set back for when you get the call they have a kidney, because it could be at 3 a.m. and you have to have your bags packed and be ready to go right then,” said Barbara. “We are also selling T-shirts that say, ‘Supporting Clancy Hensley’s journey to his next transplant. Praising God every step of the way.’ They are $10 for adults and $6 for children.”
Hensley said the support received from friends and family has been “amazing.”
“Clancy is a good husband and a wonderful father,” said Barbara. “The hardest thing he ever had to do was quit work, because he has always provided for his family. It has been really hard on him being totally disabled.”
Hensley said he encourages everyone to become an organ donor to help save lives.
For detailed information about organ and tissue donation and transplantation, you may visit www.kyorgandonor.org or www.trustforlife.org.
For more information about the Hensleys, to purchase a T-shirt or if you would like to help this family in some way, you may visit their Facebook page at “Clancy Hensley needs a kidney,” call 606-634-6508 or email them at email@example.com.
Nola Sizemore may be reached at 606-909-4147 or on Twitter @Nola_hde