Spieker Family Pulls Together for Sick Loved One
Two weeks after Renee and Tres Spieker tied the knot on April 14, 2012, the newlywed couple was met with a challenge when Tres went into total renal failure and was admitted to Community Medical Center.
The sickness didn’t come as a shock to the couple, Renee Spieker, a registered nurse on Community’s staff, said, but when they found out how severe her husband’s condition was both were taken aback.
“I knew he was sick, so it wasn’t as big a shock to me, but how bad it was—that was a shock,” she said. “We really didn’t do a honeymoon or anything.”
Spieker spent only three days in the hospital after the episode, however the combination of his loss of kidney function in the Type 1 Diabetes he’s had since he was 11 months old compounded over the next three years, leading to a litany of further medical problems.
“After the first renal issue…he had chest pain and he had to have triple by-pass,” she said. “He had open-heart surgery at age 40. They actually couldn’t repair one of them…so he still has blockage in one of his arteries.”
Over the past three years, Spieker has had three surgeries and five hospitalizations. In 2013, he suffered a stroke and once again had kidney problems, resulting in his spending Thanksgiving in the hospital. By December 2013 he started a regular dialysis regiment three times a week, which continues today. Each session lasts four hours, his wife said, and leave him completely exhausted.
“We can’t really do anything. His endurance—we went to one of his friend’s daughter’s weddings and he slept for almost two days straight. He just has no endurance at all,” she said. “I tried to talk him into going to River Fest and he was like, ‘I can’t do it. I won’t be able to stand the heat and I can’t walk that far.’”
The regular dialysis and renal failure has also affected Spieker’s memory, and he’s suffered permanent vision loss in his right eye. Now, at age 43, his life hinges on keeping his diabetes under control and receiving a kidney transplant.
The Spiekers are a large and close-knit family, says Gayla Holik, one of Tres Spieker’s cousins. Holik has been working on setting up a fundraiser and soliciting donations for the family’s medical expenses for the past several months.
Support from the community has been astounding, she said, noting that both private and business entities have not only made monetary donations, but have offered up items for the live and silent auctions that will run during a barbecue fundraiser the family is hosting on Saturday in the Fiesta Arena at the coliseum.
The family has set a goal of $10,000 for the fundraiser, Holik said, but not all the money is slated solely for Spieker’s surgery.
“We are going to set money aside so that if his mom [or another living person] is able to donate we can help her with her expenses while she’s out recouping,” Renee Spieker said. “We wanted to be able to support them so they wouldn’t have to pay all their expenses themselves, so part of that money is going to be set aside for a living donor if we end up getting one.”
Tres Spieker has been on the list for a transplant for the past two months, but the family is actively seeking a living donor. Tres’ mother will be tested soon for compatibility, she said, and several others came forward in the beginning and expressed an interest in also testing to see if they match.
Without a transplant Spieker can survive for some time, his wife said, but only if he keeps his diabetes in check and if the auxiliary complications don’t worsen. Tight restrictions on his daily habits require a lot of attention, such as not being able to drink more than a liter and a half of fluids per day—including water—but Renee says he’s been doing very well so far.
As of yet, the Spiekers haven’t been told where Tres stands on the transplant list, and rough estimates vary from two weeks to seven years. Donors have become available more quickly in the past few years due to a change in behaviors, however there is no guarantee of when a kidney will become available.
“As long as he does as well as he’s doing right now…he can last a long time,” Renee said. “But, he’s just got a lot of other issues…and with the kidneys not working and all the toxins it just makes him more susceptible to infections and complications.”
Once he gets a kidney, Tres Spieker will have to report to the hospital every six months, and regular trips to UT Southwestern in preparation for the transplant have already begun.
In order to help fund the medical expenses already incurred and those to come, the Spieker family is hosting a barbecue/raffle/auction fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Fiesta Arena at 4:30 p.m.
Various items ranging from home décor to guns and a car will be auctioned off at the event, and the live auction begins at 5:30 p.m.
“We have gotten a lot of stuff donated,” Holik said. “I’m thankful for what we have so far. Before, some of the family was sending money occasionally. Since we got this together it’s just been amazing.”
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