I’m Chuck Winer, a Jewish veteran who is in need of a kidney donor to save my life. My kidneys are failing due to medical treatment made necessary from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

I grew up in Medford and attended public schools. My grandfather was a founding member of Temple Shalom, a congregation of which I am a current member and represent a continuous thread of three generations.

I left the Boston area to attend Ripon College, a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin. In 1970, I entered the Army as a combat correspondent and photographer with the 1st Aviation Brigade headquartered in Long Binh, Vietnam.

I was the editor of the brigade magazine, regularly flying with helicopter units from the Mekong Delta to the Central Highlands of Vietnam. During this time, I was exposed to Agent Orange, a defoliant chemical.

At age 44, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. I was given a year-and-a-half to live. Fortunately, with expert care from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, I underwent an experimental bone marrow transplant with bone marrow donated by my brother.

I battled through radiation and chemotherapy and have been blessed to be cancer-free for 30 years!

A by-product of the treatments used to fight the cancer left my kidneys impaired and functioning at a low, continually declining level. Over the years I have been treated for chronic kidney disease but have managed with a great support team to have a good quality of life.

Chuck Winer, a Jewish war veteran
Chuck Winer (Courtesy photo)

When I returned from Vietnam, I started my 40-year career in health care administration. It has always been my goal to assure that all Americans could access quality health care services. I worked in state public health, in hospitals, for insurers and on behalf of physician organizations. I have always been a champion of quality, cost-effective health care.

I had the opportunity to attend a fundraiser for President Barack Obama before his second term. I was able to spend a few minutes talking to the president about the health policy we were pursuing at work. He was very interested and invited me to meet with his health policy team at the White House. That White House meeting was a highlight of my career.

During this past year, my kidney function has declined to the point where I will most likely be needing life-sustaining dialysis soon.

I am approved and am on the kidney transplant list at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. There is currently a six-year wait, unless I am fortunate enough to find an altruistic donor on my own.

I hoped that my brother who gave me his bone marrow would be the ideal kidney donor. He was screened, but unfortunately did not qualify due to health reasons. My wife and several close friends were also screened but were also disqualified.

I am desperately seeking a kidney donor. A matching kidney would be ideal. However, there are other ways you can help me. My donor can be anyone, not just someone who is an exact match.

I have lived a healthy lifestyle and, aside from my kidney failure, am otherwise physically fit. Along with the hard work and unwavering support of my loving wife, Debbie, I am dedicated to eating a kidney-friendly diet, getting exercise and doing my very best to stay as healthy as possible under the circumstances.

It is important for me to share with you that an essential part of my life and my story is faith-related. Being a person of faith has given me a perspective on life and has always been my source of strength, helping me get through the many challenges that I faced in the past, from Vietnam to cancer, and now kidney disease.

My faith remains strong despite this new challenge of kidney failure. I remain hopeful every day that a heroic, caring person will come forward to give me the gift of continued life. If you have ever thought of being an organ donor, I hope you will seriously consider me a worthy recipient.

Learn more at kidney4chuck.com.

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