Back on the kidney transplant donor waiting list for a third time, former Shaler volunteer firefighter Dennis Ganter, 60, has had his share of disappointments, but he and his wife, Ginny, refuse to give up hope.
Mr. and Mrs. Ganter still marvel at the outpouring of concern and donations they received after the Post-Gazette published an article about his condition and two impending fundraisers in March 2011. He has been on the transplant list since 2010.
"When we had the spaghetti dinner, everything was donated," said Mrs. Ganter, noting that her husband wasn't able to be at the chili cook-off, because he came down with pneumonia two days before it. "At the spaghetti dinner, people just continuously came in all day long, and he was dumbfounded."
At the time, Mr. Ganter was hoping to receive a kidney from his daughter, Christina Czurko, but the donation didn't work out.
Still healthy enough to remain on the donor list despite suffering a stroke in July 2011, he thought his prayers had been answered last month when a technician at Allegheny General Hospital was found to be a perfect match.
But just days before the transplant surgery was scheduled, the donor was found to have a medical condition that made her ineligible.
The Ganters were heartbroken, especially since their problems have escalated after the stroke left Mr. Ganter legally blind and Mrs. Ganter's position as a home care agency worker was cut. She has been on unemployment since September 2011.
"Our hope is that when someone reads this article, they will help us out with a kidney that they would like to donate," said Mrs. Ganter, noting that it's difficult for her husband to ask for help after being the one who helps other people.
He was a volunteer for Etna, Undercliff and Shaler Villa Volunteer fire departments for 31 years. "Denny has given numerous hours of service to his community, now the community can step up to the plate and help him in his time of need."
"The only thing I can do is fight," said Mr. Ganter, admitting that he doesn't want to participate in fundraisers anymore, but the couple faces an increasing financial burden. "Basements, house fires -- the biggest thing is helping people. I'm used to giving help, not accepting it."
Jill Cueni-Cohen, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.