Kidney transplant recipient celebrates 40th birthday in hospital with special visitors

Butler Blue 3 visited Michael Kaltenmark a day after Michael received a kidney transplant. (WTHR photo/Emily Longnecker)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Just a day after having a kidney transplant, Michael Kaltenmark celebrated his 40th birthday with a visit from his best friend at IU Health University Hospital.

For Michael. the owner of Butler's mascot, Blue 3, aka "Trip," the reunion was just what the doctor ordered.

"I love that dog. He's an idiot, but I love him," said Michael, tears coming to his eyes, as he rubbed Trip's ears, the bulldog looking up at his owner adoringly. "I think he's a big reason...he's the reason why all of you are here and he's a big reason why I was able to get a kidney so soon."

When Michael was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney failure last year, he went on social media searching for a kidney. Because so many people followed him and knew who he and Trip were, Michael's health crisis got a lot of attention.

Turns out, the answer to his prayers was right in his own family. Michael's older brother Doug became a living donor, giving Michael one of his kidneys.

"How's it going? You're looking good," Doug Kaltenmark told his little brother as he came into the room, also in a wheelchair.

"You look better," Michael told Doug.

"It was kind of a no-brainer for me. We're brothers. We look out for each other. I kind of just saw this as a special opportunity. When do you get a chance to make this kind of impact in somebody's life? You just have to do it," Doug explained.

"He looks really good. He looks really good. So I'm really grateful for that, too. I didn't want to inconvenience him any more than I had to, so I'm glad he's doing well," said Michael of his big brother.

So well, their doctor says Doug could be out of the hospital this weekend. Michael has a little more recovery time.

"I don't want to spend my 40th birthday in the hospital, but it's a pretty amazing gift," said Michael of his new kidney and second chance at life.

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