It’s been a decade of ups and downs for 41-year-old Michael Dalley, but things are finally looking up. The father of three from Monroe recently received the new kidney he’s been waiting for since his medical problems began.
The operation wasn’t cheap and he’s going to need another soon, plus countless medications for the rest of his life. He’s hoping community support through T-shirt sales can help him pay his way.
“I’m continuing to raise money so I’ll never fall behind on my medicine,” Dalley said.
Dalley’s medical journey began in 2008 when he was diagnosed with diabetes. Two years later, doctors told him he was showing early signs of kidney failure. He suffered a stroke in 2015 and began dialysis shortly after. The treatment rids the body of unwanted toxins, waste products and excess fluids by filtering the blood.
“It drains you,” Dalley said. “When you get on the treatment, your legs cramp, you feel tired…you just want to go home and lay down.”
Dalley needed a new kidney and was put on the transplant list in September 2017. It was almost three years to the day when he finally got the call that one was available.
“I said, ‘I’ll take it’ and I was ready to go in about 30 minutes,” he said.
He underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 15 at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. Dalley said he also needs a new pancreas but won’t be placed on that transplant list until his body has healed from the kidney surgery.
In the meantime, he’s selling “Transplant Strong” shirts to help cover his portion of both operations – roughly $2,500 each – and to offset the cost of monthly anti-rejection drugs, travel expenses to appointments and other related medical expenses.
T-shirts start at $20 and long sleeves start at $25 with options to bundle different colors and styles. Every purchase comes with a “Support Micheal” bracelet in either Carolina Panthers or Charlotte Hornets colors.
Indian Trail Mayor Michael Alvarez is one of Dalley’s supporters.
The two met last year at a convention in Concord when Alvarez noticed Dalley’s daughter was wearing a donate life shirt. He asked who she was supporting and she explained her father was awaiting a kidney transplant.
Touched by the story, Alvarez told Dalley he would help him raise the money for his share of the operation.
“I know from experience the pain and sheer exhaustion dialysis can cause,” Alvarez said. “I also know the feeling of your body slowly poisoning itself from within.”
Alvarez was diagnosed with lupus as a child and endured organ failure and two kidney transplants. A few years ago, he was diagnosed with angiosarcoma, a cancer affecting the arteries. Doctors were concerned about hot spots in his right arm and determined the best course of action was to amputate it just above the elbow.
Alvarez called Dalley “an inspiration and a testament to strength, endurance and determination,” adding that Dalley continued to work his job at Pizza Hut even while on dialysis.
“I’m so happy Michael has been given a second chance by the selfless act of another person who donated a kidney so that another may live,” Alvarez said.
Less than one month since his operation and Dalley is already gearing up to return to work. He will be starting a new job as a host at Longhorn Steakhouse in Monroe later this month.
“I’ll be on my feet, but no heavy lifting,” Dalley said. “I’ve got to start off kind of slow.”
He realizes it’s unusual for a recent transplant recipient to be so eager to go back to work, but that’s just who he is. He’s always pushed forward, no matter what, he said.
“I’m just like my dad,” Dalley said. “I can’t sit down.”
Throughout everything, Dalley said his kids (ages 21, 16 and 13) are the real reason he keeps going. He loves being a dad, playing basketball with his son and taking day trips and vacations as a family. He said his new kidney allows him to continue spending time with them.
“I’m so grateful,” Dalley said, “just being able to hang out with my kids.”
Support Michael Dalley
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to buy a “Transplant Strong” shirt and help Micheal Dalley with his medical costs.