Unum employee gives father new lease on life

Leading the Way

Unum employee gives father new lease on life

Ryan Sandidge, a project manager in Unum’s Chattanooga office, gave his daughter a relationship with her grandfather.

When Ryan was in college his father, Richard, suffered a sudden brain aneurism. He seemed to be making a miraculous recovery — but began to have kidney issues.

Doctors monitored his kidneys for several years, but his kidney function continued to decrease. Eventually, Richard was placed on blood dialysis and received treatments 2-3 a week for more than a year.

Ryan noticed the toll the failing kidney had on his father. He began researching dialysis and realized it wasn’t a replacement for a kidney. Ryan’s wife, Beky, was also pregnant at the time, which further motivated Ryan to want to help his dad.

“My wife and I saw how bad he really was, and I wanted him to have the opportunity to have a relationship with my daughter,” Ryan said.

He decided to get tested to see if he was a match for his father. And in December 2017, he underwent organ donation surgery to save his father’s life.

Since Ryan was the one donating, his recovery was quicker and less intense than his dad’s.

“I was in the hospital for about 3 days and had a normal recovery. My dad’s journey was more challenging. He had difficulty walking and overall his body took longer to adjust.”

Despite the intense recovery for Richard, Ryan said his dad’s energy was quickly replenished, and he didn’t understand how bad he truly felt before until after he received his new kidney.

Thanks to his new lease on life, Richard was able to return to activities he enjoys, such as woodworking, painting and auto repair. Richard even moved to Chattanooga to be closer to his family and new granddaughter, Vada.

Health and fitness have always been important to Ryan, but they’re even more significant now, which he’s able to share with his dad again.

“Now we can do things like camp, hike and cook together,” Ryan said.

Ryan had been a part of the Unum team for only four months when he donated his kidney. Thanks to support from his team and boss, he was able to take the time off work to recover and to be with his father, which Ryan said he’s very grateful for.

“I had only been working here for a few months when I had the surgery. Even as a new employee, I felt supported and cared for.”

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