Local man’s friend donates kidney|By EDWIN MODLIN II
Staff Writer

Published 9:49 pm Thursday, June 10, 2010

By Staff
Diagnosed with a rare kidney disease known as iga glomerolonephritis, the last thing Elton Culter Jr. thought he would need at the age of 55 was a kidney transplant.
With the love and support of family and friends, a donor was closer than he thought.
Kidney-transplant surgery is a procedure that includes several weeks of testing a donor to make sure his or her kidney matches the blood type and genetic makeup of the recipient.
If the potential donor’s kidney doesn’t match up, the waiting game starts all over again, as some patients wait for years for the right match to come along.
Fortunately for Cutler, a matching donor was none other than his best friend and brother-in-law, Hallas Boyd Jr.
“Doctors told him (Elton) he would have to wait anywhere from five to seven years to get a kidney,” Boyd said. “But we found out I matched, so I donated one of mine.”
Cutler’s wife, Janet, said he did not have five to seven years to wait for a kidney.
“Doctors told us he didn’t have that long. He needed one now,” she said.
Boyd and Cutler have been best friends since 1975 when Cutler introduced Boyd to his wife, Linda.
And as their wives are sisters, Boyd’s decision to give his best friend and brother-in-law one of his kidneys was an easy one.
“We’ve known each other all our lives and have been best friends since we were kids,” Boyd said.
“We were raised about five miles apart from each other and ended up marrying sisters, and have been family ever since,” Cutler said. “We go fishing a lot and spend a lot of time together. We even go on vacations together.”
Cutler was diagnosed with iga glomerolonephritis after he broke a rib in a fall at a boat ramp last year.
“Doctors said if he hadn’t broken his rib and gone to the hospital it would’ve been too late to catch the kidney disease and they wouldn’t be able to save him,” his wife said. “So by him breaking his rib was really a blessing in disguise because they were able to help him in time.”
Cutler said his son was a candidate first but could not donate because of his elevated blood pressure.
“Doctors said his blood pressure was just too high and turned him down for a donor,” Cutler said. “Hallas was ready to go and be tested.”
“I was next in line to be a possible donor,” Boyd said. “His son would’ve been a good choice because of the young age and DNA match. But the elevated blood pressure was not good and would’ve caused Elton trouble later on in life. And that’s not something the doctors wanted to take a chance on.”
Once Boyd was tested, he had to be approved by a surgical health board to make sure they could do the procedure.
As the board only meets at the end of the month, Boyd wanted to get the results in as quickly as possible so the board could approve him and begin the surgeries.
“He’s (Culter) already on (kidney) dialysis and we wanted to get things done as soon as possible,” Boyd said.
Kidney dialysis weakens the body, and a typical patient will live an average of 10 to 15 years longer with a kidney transplant than if kept on dialysis.
Cutler said he’ll gladly go through five hours of surgery for an extra 10 to 15 years of life.
Janet Cutler, who works at Pungo Christian Academy with Linda Boyd, said their families have received the biggest outpouring of community support that she has ever seen.
“People have been doing bake sales, fundraisers … you name it, they’ve done it,” she said. “It just lets you know how much the community comes together in times like these.”
As Cutler and Boyd get ready for their surgeries, their main concern is whether the kidney will be rejected by Cutler’s body.
“There’s always that chance, but I’m praying everything goes well,” Cutler said.
“It’ll work,” Boyd said, interrupting him. “I have faith. We’re going to be fishing in September.”
The recovery time can vary from patient to patient.
However, NBA basketball superstars Sean Elliott and Alonzo Mourning both made comebacks to professional basketball careers after successful kidney-transplant surgeries.
Boyd said his recovery time would be around eight weeks and he should be back to 100 percent.
Cutler said his recovery time will differ greatly, lasting around six months. He will also be on medication for the rest of his life.
Doctors have told Boyd, with all the testing they have done on him he was healthy enough to go to the moon.
“All the testing they’ve done on him are the tests they’ve done on NASA astronauts,” Cutler said.
The two families joke about the surgeries to relieve the pre-surgery tension.
“The funniest thing was when Hallas stepped out of his truck and thought he saw a snake,” Janet Cutler said. “He said, ‘Oh man, I about had a heart attack.’ To which Elton replied, ‘Yeah, that would be just my luck.’”
The Boyds and Cutlers said they are there for each other and will always be family no matter what.
The operation is scheduled for this morning.
Boyd and his wife have two children, Hunter and Jaynee.
Cutler and his wife have two children, Joel Woolard and Elton, and four grandchildren, Shawn and Jordan Cutler and Tanner and Sierra Woolard.