A Twin Cities man has no problem helping a brother out, especially when the person in need is his younger brother with a serious kidney disease.
When he was in high school Jeff Morton was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease that his father also had. His brother Scott was a match for a kidney donation, but Scott had to overcome some of his own challenges before he could help his brother.
“We got along pretty well. We had our ups and downs. We got into a few scraps now and again,” Scott said.
Scott and Jeff Morton had a typical sibling rivalry, but Jeff always knew that one day his life would depend on his big brother.
“I had polycystic kidneys,” Jeff said. “Basically it raises your blood pressure, is one of the side effects of it.”
But that wasn’t even the most glaring side effect of the disease. By the time he needed a transplant, Jeff’s kidneys were so big they were pushing against his heart.
“They actually grew to a significant size,” Jeff said. “Thirty-three pounds each … they were very large kidneys.”
For 40 years, Scott had expected to give Jeff a kidney. The good news, he was a match. The bad news, he was in no position to help his brother out.
“After going through all testing and stuff, I was denied,” Scott said.
The Mayo Clinic determined he was out of shape, overweight, and had high blood pressure himself. But instead of giving up, Scott decided to go that extra mile, literally. He began going to Lifetime Fitness five to seven times a week, spending hours on the treadmill.
“I was in the fat burn area — 100 beats per minute was my tracking rate. I lost 42 pounds in 90 days. I was motivated to re-qualify,” Scott said. “If you put your mind on getting in shape it’s a doable thing if you really focus on it.”
That motivation saved his brother’s life. Scott had no problem re-qualifying after that. And in January he had a late Christmas present for Jeff in the form of a new kidney.
“For him to do what he did and really be dedicated to doing it was just incredible. It really meant a lot,” Jeff said. “He gave me the gift of life is what he did. I have a second lease on life now.”
Scott said another big part of his weight loss was changing his diet around.
The brothers want people to know that 22 people a day die from a lack of an organ transplant, so they are encouraging anybody who can to become an organ donor.