Hello, my name is Joe Browning, and I’m a 71-year-old United States Navy veteran with Stage 4 kidney disease (13% functional) in urgent need of a transplant.
I grew up in Derby, NY as the youngest of seven siblings. While we often didn’t have much, we were always a close-knit family. Our parents taught us right from wrong, to respect God and other people, and the value of earning an honest living. Like my siblings, I worked various odd jobs around town growing up to help support our family.
When I was 18, I enlisted in the United States Navy and served honorably overseas, earning the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat “V” designation for my actions during the Vietnam War. While this was without a doubt the scariest experience of my life, being a young man halfway across the world not knowing whether I would ever return home alive, I am proud still today to have done my duty and serve this great country. Unfortunately, because of my time in combat and exposure to Agent Orange, I developed high blood pressure, which has contributed to and ultimately led to the kidney failure I now face as my enemy.
Upon returning State-side and transitioning into the Navy Reserves, I worked various jobs until in 1981, the same year that I married my wonderful wife, Flo, I took a leap of faith and quit my job to start my own home improvement company with just $50 in the bank account. Ten years later, Flo and I adopted our son, Jonathan, from Korea. We fell absolutely in love with him the moment we saw this adorable 8-month-old baby boy being carried off the plane at JFK airport in New York City.
After 33 years of hard work and sacrifices in building a successful company, I retired to spend more time with my wife and son. Last year for my 70th birthday, our family went to Octoberfest in Munich as I have always dreamed of going there given my German/Austrian heritage. The trip was miles beyond anything I ever expected, and it was special even more-so as Jonathan proposed to my future daughter-in-law, Bora.
Although Jonathan and Bora live in New Jersey and we can only see each other a few times a year, Flo and I continue to keep ourselves busy, volunteering once a week at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center where we have met many wonderful people. We are very excited for Jonathan’s and Bora’s wedding, which will be Memorial Day weekend 2020. While they chose this weekend by happenstance, it may be by fate that Flo and I had also gotten married during Memorial Day weekend all those years ago.
As my condition continues to deteriorate and if I’m unable to find a donor, I will need to go on dialysis soon to continue living. I am hoping to find a living donor (which has the best odds for a good quality of life) so I can receive a kidney transplant and be healthy enough to attend Jonathan’s and Bora’s wedding and celebrate their love together without being brought down by my disease or limited by dialysis. My blood type is A Positive so I can receive a transplant from anyone who is type A or type O.
I hope and pray every day that I can find someone out there who’s willing and able to donate a kidney. If you think this might be you and you’d like to get evaluated or find out more information about donating, please contact Nicole Haseley, the living donor coordinator at the ECMC Transplant Unit, at (716) 898-6283. You can also e-mail me directly at Bear220JB@aol.com.
Thank you for taking a moment to read my story; I wish you nothing but a full, happy, and healthy life.