Bill and Paul on Mount Langley a year after the transplant.
Brothers Paul and Bill Coari have been sharing wilderness adventures every summer since Bill donated his kidney to his brother more than 10 years ago. But this summer’s journey was a bit more memorable-they hiked to Kidney Lake.
Paul realized his kidney was failing in the late 1990s, prompting several family members to be evaluated as a potential match. Fortunately, his younger brother was compatible. When Paul’s kidney could no longer function, Bill was happy to take a month off of work and donate his kidney at UC San Diego Health in July 2001.
“When I found out my brother needed a kidney, there wasn’t much discussion,” Bill said. “My thought process was, if I am a match I will donate.”
French Lakes near Bishop.
“Patients will continue to wait 5-10 years or more for deceased donor kidneys, despite our best efforts. Living donation can be low risk and offers a better functioning kidney without the wait,” said Robert Steiner, MD, a transplant specialist, who has handled part of the brothers’ medical care.
The brothers, who grew up in Texas, had always been close and got together every year around Christmas. When Paul’s kidney started to fail, he and his brother decided to start annual hiking trips. Every winter they would make a plan for the coming summer.
“My younger brother has given me a second life,” Paul said. “That brought us even closer together.”
One year after successful transplant surgery, the brothers reached Mount Langley, one of the highest peaks in California. The brothers have also visited the eastern Sierras, Alaska and tropical destinations such as Costa Rica for hiking, fishing and surfing.
Halibut Fishing in Alaska.
Last summer on their trip to Kidney Lake, Paul had a difficult time reaching their destination due to the high elevation. Bill went ahead, dropped off his own pack and returned to take his older brother’s pack so they could reach their destination.
“During these trips I have learned that my younger brother is a very strong and unique individual,” Paul said. “When my brother helped me up the mountain, I realized we had a job to get done and basically he did it. He stayed with me all the way.”
Bill was glad to donate his kidney and has been happy to share these hikes and trips with his brother.
“There is no greater reward than to see your loved one, in this case my brother, live his life fully,” said Bill.