Kendallville, Ind. (WANE) – A Kendallville, Ind. man knows all about beating the odds. He has been doing just that since he was three years old. Now at the age of 33, Josh Lash is recovering from a multi-visceral transplant. About 8 weeks ago he received a new pancreas, liver, kidney, stomach, and intestines.
He began having trouble with his organs a few years ago. He was diagnosed with gastro paresis, a side effect from the pancreatic and liver cancers he had before he was 5-years-old. In the years that followed, Lash had multiple surgeries to remove his gall bladder, spleen and at the age of 11 he was diagnosed with diabetes.
Unfortunately, since then Lash has lost his vision in his right eye, partial vision in his left eye, and his right leg due to complications from the diabetes. So when, doctors told him his organs were shutting down, he didn’t think a person could even have that many transplants.
“We were kind of dumb-founded and shocked,” Lash said about when doctors first told him what they wanted to do. “I thought ‘oh my gosh, you can actually do that?'”
Lash started the process of getting out on the transplant list. It took nearly two years, but he was finally approved in August. Seven days later he got the call he never thought he would get. Doctors at IU Medical Center in Indianapolis had a potential donor and he was supposed to head down for surgery.
“I have been let down so many times throughout my life with bad news I was just waiting for them to come tell me there’s something wrong or there’s not a match,” said Lash.
The surgery lasted 7 hours. Then, he spent 8 weeks in the hospital recovering. Doctors and nurses were constantly impressed with his quick progress. Last Friday he was able to go home. He said he wouldn’t have been able to get through it without his family and friends.
“I guess if it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go, but I’ve got too much to live for,” he said. “I’ve got a 13-year-old daughter that needs me and I’m married so my wife needs me.”
Lash’s new goal is to keep getting healthier so he can return to work. He worked for the Kendallville Fire Department for 15 years. He said he feels like after everything the community has done for him, he wants to give back.
The community has been behind Lash from the beginning and has been raising money to help him and his family pay for medical bills and medication. The transplant cost roughly $1 million and he has thousands of dollars worth a medication a month to prevent his body from rejecting the new organs. Lash said he is constantly humbled by the support he’s gotten.
“I didn’t figure that with the way the economy was that people would be so generous, but they have. I’m grateful to everybody who has helped,” he said. He said he hopes this latest scar is his last and he will finally have the chance to feel healthy for the first time in his life.
There is an “Organ-ized Benefit Dinner” for Lash and his family on October 29 at the Mid-America Windmill Museum in Kendallville. Dinner will be served from 4p.m.-8p.m. Tickets are $8.50 in advance and $10 at the door. The night includes entertainment, a raffle, and silent auction. For more information you can call Julie Hart at (260) 239-1051.