UPDATE: Man from "Kidney for Grandpa" billboards out of surgery - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Man from "Kidney for Grandpa" billboards out of surgery


FOX28's Melanie Yuill is in Indianapolis for Friday's surgery. She'll be updating this story throughout the day and also on Twitter.

Jerry Graf's family has been waiting for this day for years.  Graf's kidney has been failing for over eight years and he's been on the transplant list for over two.  Back in January, the family spent thousands of dollars to put up billboards to try and find Graf a new kidney.  FOX28 was the first to tell you about the billboards that featured Graf's one year old granddaughter, Adelynn, and the message, "Please donate the kidney that will save my grandpa's life." 

Friday, Graf got his new kidney.  Early Friday, morning Graf and his living donor, Amy Pitrowski, showed up at IU Health University Hospital to undergo surgery to transplant her kidney to his body.  Around 8 a.m., Pitrowski was taken into surgery and just after 10 a.m. Graf was taken to the operating room for his surgery.  Around noon, Pitrowski's kidney was out and taken to Graf.  At 1:30 p.m., the surgeon who operated on Graf was talking to his family.  He told them the surgery was complete and it went "smooth," there were "no problems."  As of 2:35 p.m. the family was waiting to be allowed to see Graf.  After hearing that the surgery went well the Graf's wife, daughter, and sister all embraced and cried.  They also hugged and cried with Pitrowski's partner.

The family was finally allowed to see Graf just before 5 p.m.  They cried, held his hand, and told him, "you did great."  After seeing Graf his wife, Diane, told us, "you can't imagine the joy in my heart."  She and the rest of the family are very grateful that Graf is getting a second chance at life.  His wife said she hopes now he'll be around to see his granddaughter get married.

Before surgery, Graf hugged his family goodbye.  He told FOX28 that he was nervous and a little scared for the unknown that's ahead.  But he added that he is ready for this surgery.  He's happy that the new kidney will give him more time with his granddaughter Adelynn and told us that after surgery he's looking forward to eating butter pecan ice cream.

Pitrowski told us she was also a little nervous but also ready.  Before being taken to the operating room, she told FOX28 that she just wanted to get it started.  She said on Thursday she saw Graf watching cartoons with his granddaughter and she's giving her kidney so that he'll be able to do that with Adelynn many more times.

It's been an emotional roller coaster for the family and we've been following their story since they first put up the billboards a few months ago.  We talked to them about the overwhelming response the billboards brought in and their happiness after finding out Pitrowski would be donating her kidney to Graf.

Will have complete coverage from the day of the surgery on FOX28 on Monday April 22nd.

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