Kidney recipient follows his dreams and lives life to the fullest
Greg Garb’s passions have remained constant throughout his life.
Family, sports and the drive to someday own and operate his own business have always meant the world to him. Not much about any of that has changed over time, not even when his world was turned upside down.
Out of nowhere at just 23-year-old, Garb was diagnosed with the rare, cell-attacking kidney disease membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN) back in 2003. He was told by doctors he wouldn’t survive without a kidney transplant and even with that there have been periods of uncertainty where regular dialysis treatments have been required.
Just a year ago, the former high school football player became sick enough to need two surgeries in the same week and was again placed on dialysis.
“Yes, sometime I feel cheated, sometimes I feel depressed,” Garb told North Cook News. “I feel like my life is about 15 years behind the 8-ball. I still haven’t gotten married; I still haven’t had children, but at the same time I’ve felt like I had to do everything fast because I might die young.”
Through it all, Greg Garb insists he’s never given up. Why would he when he can point to all the things he still has to live for?
“I love being with people, my mom and dad, my two nephews, my girlfriend,” he said. “I still love sports, my friends. I enjoy playing poker, traveling to the west coast, and I love the people of Chicago. I consider myself to be extremely lucky not to still be on dialysis, and I am extremely thankful for the kidney I got and that doctors caught the sepsis early enough to treat it.”
Now 38, Garb said he prays every day that his new kidney will fully take and he is soon able to live a normal life. He added that he is forever grateful to longtime friend Tony Juarez for even making that a possibility.
“He knew my story and introduced me to a friend who gave me a direct kidney donation from her brother in September,” he said. “I’m forever grateful to both of them.”
Every day, Garb shows his appreciation by embracing life. He coaches T-ball to 3- and 4-year-olds and spends plenty of time around the batting cages giving tutoring sessions.
“I try to focus on the positives,” said Garb, who admits he is still unable to regularly work and struggles with rising medical costs.
“Sometimes it seems like every time you think you’re turning a corner there’s another setback,” he admitted.
But it’s at those moments when family and friends are there to pick him up, and when the dreams he still holds are enough to propel him forward.
“I want to be an entrepreneur in real estate, home improvement and commercial properties,” he said. “And I always want to be coaching kids.”