Tim Biggerstaff, DJ at WLON, speaks into the mike as heâ€™s done for more than 20 years at the local radio station. A longtime diabetic, he recently received an offer from a loyal listener who wants to give him a kidney. Jenny Walling / LTN Photo
â€œSwap Shopâ€ callers try to sell their old cars and albums. Tim Biggerstaff never expected the offer he got from a listener recently during his morning radio show at WLON â€” a kidney.
Jack Folk, who has listened to Biggerstaff on the air for years, wants to help.
Folk is currently out of work and undergoing tests at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, hoping to be a match for Biggerstaff.
â€œJack heard me mention it on the radio and wanted to know if he could do it â€¦ heâ€™s a very generous man,â€ said Biggerstaff.
The transplant surgery could be the solution for a lifetime of health problems for the Lincolnton man.
Biggerstaff has suffered from juvenile diabetes since childhood. Aside from the three insulin shots a day, he admits to not letting his condition slow him down.
He was able to lead a normal lifestyle and didnâ€™t pay much attention to the advice of doctors. But his good luck ended in December of 2000.
â€œYears of teetering on the edge of doing the right thing finally caught up with me,â€ he said.
On Christmas morning, one day before his 40th birthday, Biggerstaff became ill. His blood pressure shot up to 250/125, and his temperature spiked to 105. He spent the next 40 days in the hospital where he was diagnosed with cerebral vasculitis, a cluster of brain clots at the base of the skull.
Biggerstaff remained in an induced coma for 30 days until his condition was stable. When he woke, Biggerstaff said he was basically paralyzed. His muscles were weakened. Hard work and therapy had him back on his feet and at work April 1, 2001.
He took 46 pills twice a day to be functional.
â€œI was very weak. It was probably too soon to come back, but I was bored,â€ he said.
Since his recovery, Biggerstaff follows all his doctorsâ€™ advice.
Despite his efforts, his health has declined.
The local DJ has had 17 eye surgeries. He gives himself four insulin shots a day, takes blood pressure medication daily and has a permanent tube in his stomach. Each night Biggerstaff threads the tube to a paratonal dialysis machine that cleanses his body for nine hours.
A kidney transplant will add to his life and free him from the nightly ritual.
â€œIf you get a transplant, youâ€™ll be on anti-rejection medication for life,â€ he said. â€œBut if you get to live 30 or 40 more years, itâ€™s an easy choice.â€
Biggerstaffâ€™s wife and sister offered to donate but didnâ€™t match the profile.
The support from his immediate, church and radio family has been remarkable, he said. People have given cash donations and held fund-raisers to assist with medical bills. And in true Southern tradition, gangs of food have been dropped off at his house.
â€œI was on probably as many prayer lists in this county as anybodyâ€™s ever been,â€ he said.
The generosity of his wife, three daughters and extended family keeps him going, he said. But the gift he might receive from Folk still boggles his mind. If this weekâ€™s tests go well for Folk, Biggerstaff said the transplant surgery could be the next step. He said heâ€™s grateful for the opportunity.
â€œThere have been extreme acts of kindness, none greater than Jack Folk.â€
by Diane Turbyfill