During this unprecedented time in history, it’s a struggle to hear about anything positive on the news or anything that doesn’t relate to COVID-19. So, by putting out this interview I conducted approximately three weeks ago, I hope this brings to light the good that we have in this world and the power of the human spirit.
During one of my work road trips in February, I had on the Jim Rome Show. I’ve been listening since my college days in the late 90’s and I can’t tell you how many times I’m blown away by his content or the sheer humour. But this time, there was a story shared by Executive Producer, Adam Hawk about one of their longtime listeners. I was able to connect with Luis in Palmdale and his story is one of battling through a brutal scenario and persevering when the odds are against you.
The GM’s Perspective: Luis, pleasure speaking with you today. I was listening to Jim Rome the other day, and a fascinating story was told about one of his longtime “clones”, Luis in Palmdale. For those unfamiliar with this universe, what’s a clone and what is the connection between you and the “Jungle”.
Luis in Palmdale: A clone is a listener and follower of the Jim Rome Show and it started years ago. I I believe it was from one of the reboots of the Star Wars movies where Jim started using that term. Basically an avid fan of the Jim Rome Show.
GMs: What’s your connection to the show?
LIP: I’ve never called in, but I’ve been a faxer, an emailer, and a tweeter for years. Jim has specific times and segments to fit in calls and there have been times people have been on hold for “weeks” to get on!! I started to listen back in high school during the tail end of my senior year. I grew up in Palmdale. That’s about 45 minutes from Los Angeles and we would get the feed from the Mighty 690. That first semester of college we arranged our class schedule around Jim’s show!
GMs: This story I heard was astonishing. First, I heard you hit a milestone in the 5K correct? Why was that so important?
LIP: The reason it was important (February 22) was because it was three months to the day of my kidney transplant. I had a kidney transplant on November 22, 2019. It was a culmination of things I had planned to do, have done, and most importantly, do this 5km run. 4 out of the 5 doctors I was working with said it would be extremely hard to do something like this so soon. I couldn’t break 1 hour and 15 minutes on a road course. I could do it on a treadmill very easily. On the 22nd I was proud to say that I came in at 1 hour and 10 minutes!
GMs: So let me get this straight, and I read this on @Imadamhawks twitter account as well “An injury as a diabetic led to a right foot amputation and a diagnosis of kidney failure. After losing 200 pounds to make a transplant viable, he found a donor and got a new kidney last November”.
And the fact that you were at a Disturbed concert, led to that donor finding you!”
LIP: When I got my amputation, my kidney function was gradually slowing down and eventually I would need dialysis or a transplant. At that point it was recovery and trying to start my life over because of the amputation. When it was decided that I needed the kidney transplant, I became proactive. They told me if I was to get on the list, it would be between a three year and a 10-year wait to find a viable kidney donor in the Los Angeles area. I told myself, I would find one within a year, and of course everyone around me told me that was a really intense expectation. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I kept telling myself it would happen.
I was all over social media doing everything I could. I actually created a t-shirt and went through four or five different designs with different messaging. Funny enough, my best friend, she works for Live Nation, and she said what better way to find a kidney than to go to concerts. Wear the shirt and see what happens.
I went to concerts I have no business being at; Willie Nelson, Shakira and multiple others. But at every concert I wore the shirt. The shirt got a lot of response, good and bad. Mostly I didn’t want me to get my hopes up.
I went to a Disturbed concert, and if you see me or my picture, you know I have no business being at one of their shows! By this point I had to be realistic about my chances, but at the same time, I was starting to enjoy these shows for the artistic value they bring. Nothing happened after the show. I continued posting, but it was the same result.
A few months passed (the concert was in January at the forum). At one of my visits, the doctor told me I had a donor, but no one told me anything at this point. I had previous false positives and I still kept my hopes up.
I finally found out that a younger woman who lived in the Los Angeles area was the donor. There was so much emotion. Months later, I got a call from the transplant center, and for the first time I felt there was a real viable chance that this could be the donor that donated their kidney.
I received the donors information, her name was Joy. I left her a voicemail, and was so happy that I could tell her how I felt at that moment. I started crying out of sheer emotion. My wife and I huddled up and said a quick prayer. 10-15 minutes later I get a call from Joy. We shared a cry. But before the call ended, I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I blurted out, “I love you”. When I said it out loud, I wanted to bring it back because it sounded a little weird saying this to someone I’ve never met before. It was nice to know that once I said it she reciprocated it back. She said I love you.
If you think about it, it’s the purest form of love. A complete stranger is donating a part of their body for you without even knowing you after seeing your shirt at a Distrurbed concert. We met after and she is a great person. She is as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside.
She’s also a Dodger fan! A crazy fact, we found out we share the same birthday. It’s funny how things workout like that.
GMs: Disturbed must be more than a band to you now right?!
LIP: Oh of course. I’ve been working out a lot and listening to their music. I’m more of a EDM fan, but Disturbed is huge in my playlist. Overall, to say it’s a miracle is an understatement. The reason I had to finish the 5k was because I was given a new lease on life and the last thing I wanted to do was stay still.
There’s a reason I’ve gone through an amputation, there’s a reason I’ve gone through a kidney transplant, and why I’ve lost 200 pounds. I’m still tasked with finding out why? But I hope through interviews with people such as yourself and word of mouth, that I can reach one person and be the catalyst for positive change in their life.