Craig Hostert: kidney recipient

Karen Handelman Donation Stories

To have my son give life back to our family has made us even more committed.

The Hosterts are an active family, going on ski trips, camping trips, attending sporting events, spending time with friends and just watching movies together. No one would guess that Craig used to rely on dialysis to maintain his life, or that two of the family members are living kidney donors.

In 1986, Craig Hostert was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder of the kidneys. When his kidneys failed, Craig’s three brothers and sister tested to be kidney donors, but were ruled out. After more than two years on dialysis, his wife Kathleen was matched as a donor. On June 25, 1998, the transplant surgery was completed, with successful results.

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The Hostert family started the Donate Life Run/Walk in 2003 to help people waiting for a transplant and honor donors both living and deceased.

After the life-saving transplant, Craig and Kathleen made it their mission to support dialysis patients and others in need of life-saving transplants. In 2003, they founded the Donate Life Run/Walk and Family Festival at Cal State Fullerton, which has grown to be the largest gathering in the country to promote donation. Over the years, their son Justin and daughter Nicole have taken active roles in the event and are as committed as their parents to the donation mission. Justin is responsible for setting up the 5K route, and Nicole serves as assistant stage manager.

In 2012, the family was faced once again with the catastrophic illness of kidney failure. After 14 years, Craig was once again on dialysis. The family was devastated. On Dec. 11, 2012, Craig’s life was once again saved by a living donation from a family member, this time by his son Justin, who had wanted to give his dad a kidney since he was nine. Fourteen years later, he did just that, with his left kidney transplanted successfully into his father.

“To watch my husband endure dialysis not once, but twice, and have my son give life back to our family has made us even more committed to enjoy life and continue to inspire the community to donate life each year at the Donate Life Run/Walk,” said Kathleen.