“The praying worked,” Lilia says Bobby told her when he regained consciousness just hours after his kidney transplant. “I said, ‘Yes, my God is good.’” And Bobby told me, “I don’t feel pain. I don’t hurt. I feel good right now.” Bobby says it’s all indeed true – the procedure was a complete success.





BY JOE ARCE AND COREY CRABLE


Seven has long been considered to be a lucky number, but for Bobby Grado, the number holds an especially fortunate meaning.


Robert ‘Bobby’ Grado, 71, who, until recently, had suffered from kidney failure for the three years and eight months, enjoyed short-lived moments of hope when the hospital would call and tell the local man that a kidney donor had been found. Bobby and his wife, Lilia, would feel pangs of excitement until the hospital would follow up, dashing the Grado’s dreams to the ground by notifying them that the donor kidney would “be no good.”


They’d felt that disappointment six times. But the seventh time was different.


Bobby and Lilia were jolted out of a sound sleep on May 2, 2022 by a phone call from the local hospital where Bobby receives dialysis treatments every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


“They called us at 4:30 a.m. and said, ‘Hurry and get to the ER. The patient is getting here soon,’” Lilia recalls.


Bobby was brought in for one more dialysis treatment first, then carted off for surgery. This time, Lilia, says, she spent more than seven hours waiting for the surgery to end.


“They came out every couple of hours and told me what the doctor was doing,” Lilia says. “I was just praying, ‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph, please stay with me.’”


After the surgery was over, the doctor came to Lilia and pronounced it a success.


“She came out and said he’s working really good,” she recalls. “Everything on his body is normal.”


Bobby was then taken to another room as nurses struggled to get him to wake up from his anesthesia.


“It took about nine hours for him to wake up,” Lilia says. “He was having problems breathing at the time.”


As for how Bobby felt? Like he had a new lease on life.


“He said, ‘The praying worked,’” Lilia says Bobby told her when he regained consciousness. “I said, ‘Yes, my God is good.’ And Bobby told me, I don’t feel pain. I don’t hurt. I feel good right now.’”


Bobby says it’s all indeed true – the procedure was a complete success.


“I feel real good,” Bobby tells KC Hispanic News from his home. “I’ve been blessed.”


To those around Bobby, that’s an understatement. Lilia says though most kidney transplant patients take days to recover from the procedure, Bobby’s recovery was speedy.


“God gave us a good one, because Bobby bounced back the next day. His organs were talking to each other, his kidney had already talked to his bladder, and it was producing (urine). This kidney started talking to his organs ASAP. The doctor didn’t think we’d go home for days. But he was doing so well, he told us we were going home on Friday. We were so happy and thankful, especially for the prayers.”


Before the surgery, Lilia had been taking Bobby to his dialysis appointments, and their adult children had been taking care of their dad.


“I’d see my dad just declining all the time,” recalls Teresa Grado, his daughter, adding that her father’s spirits were so low that he was taking anti-depressants. “The week before the transplant he told me he just wanted to give up. I said, ‘No, daddy, we’re so close.’”


Thanks to an anonymous donor, Teresa and Lilia say, Bobby is a new person. Both believe that the donor had to have been a young person, since Bobby recovered so quickly. Unfortunately, they say they know that someone had to give their life for Bobby to receive the kidney he needed.


“I pray for (the donor’s family) every day. It had to be somebody who died,” Lilia says. “That family has to be hurting, but whoever it was, they gave up their parts, and that’s something we’re thankful for.”


The family of the mystery donor has the option to meet the Grado family, but the earliest they may do so is a year after the surgery.


“I knew someone gave a piece of themselves for my dad to live,” Teresa says. “This person was so strong and they had to have been so healthy because the minute my dad was done with the transplant … he looked like a brand new man. His color was back to normal. The blood was flowing. It was just amazing to see that. That person gave my dad life again.”


One of Bobby’s friends happy to hear that news is Matt Bichelmeyer, co-owner of Bichelmeyer Meats, who had offered to donate one of his kidneys to Grado in 2019. That surgery ultimately wasn’t scheduled.


“It just warms my heart. That’s the best news I’ve had in several weeks,” Bichelmeyer says, adding that he understands Bobby’s feelings of depression throughout his illness. “You need to get ahead of the game where your health is concerned, and that can be so hard to do. The psychological part of it is huge.”


Bichelmeyer says that to him, there are still great things in store for Bobby.


“It’s a sign from God,” he says. “It’s not your turn, and you still have things to do on this Earth.”


Teresa says she feels like her father is once again the man she used to know.


“I feel like my dad is back to normal. He’s a strong man,” she says. “To see him today, it just makes me feel like I have my dad back.”


Bobby says he owes his health not just to his doctors and hospital team, but to his family as well.


“My kids all stood by me and helped me, even when I got angry because I was feeling bad,” Bobby says. “Now I’m praying I do right and take care of my kidney. I’m going to try to live a better life.”



Bobby Grado faced his health issues and his family caring for him for 3 years and 8 months. There were still great moments in his life as well for the family. Bobby and his wife Lilia celebrated their 50th Anniversary and their daughter Teresa Grado opened her Mexican restaurant and naming it after her mother in Kansas City.