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Joshua Isenberg, right, poses for a photo with his father, David, is the family’s Hartford City, Ind., home. Last month, Joshua donated one of his kidneys to his father, who has been undergoing dialysis treatment for the past nine months.
Joshua Isenberg, right, poses for a photo with his father, David, is the family’s Hartford City, Ind., home. Last month, Joshua donated one of his kidneys to his father, who has been undergoing dialysis treatment for the past nine months. (Photo courtesy of Joshua Isenberg)

Thanks to Joshua Isenberg’s big heart, his dad has a new kidney.

Last month, the 24- year-old Naples, Italy-based sailor donated a kidney to his father, David.

David Isenberg’s ordeal began in February when his kidneys failed because of high blood pressure. For about nine months, the 54-year-old man endured dialysis treatments three times a week, four hours each time.

“It took everything out of you and was quite an ordeal to get through, but it was the only way to maintain life — though really, it wasn’t much of a life to maintain,” David Isenberg said.

It was hard for Joshua Isenberg to take.

“When I saw my dad in February, there were … tubes hanging out of his chest; he was hooked up to a dialysis machine; and he wasn’t doing very good,” Joshua Isenberg said. “The doctors put him on a donor list and told us it could take a couple of years before they found a donor.

“My dad didn’t have a couple of years.”

Unbeknownst to his father, the third class petty officer sought a test kit to see if he might be an organ donor match. Results showed Joshua Isenberg couldn’t have been a better match.

“You couldn’t get any closer to what me and my dad were,” the postal clerk said Tuesday in a phone interview from his home in Hartford City, Ind.

But to be a donor, he’d have to go through surgery. He’d live the rest of his life on one kidney alone.

“I didn’t want him to go through with it,” David Isenberg said. “It would be too much of an ordeal to put him through.

“But he went behind my back to have [testing] done. I told him I couldn’t ask that of him. He told me I wasn’t asking. I was so very proud of him at that moment. … Joshua has the biggest heart of anyone I know.”

Actually, Joshua Isenberg was less concerned about the surgery than asking his supervisors for time off.

It’s unheard of for someone in Isenberg’s job — postal clerk at Naval Support Activity Naples — to take vacation during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, when it’s three times busier than any other point in the year.

“I really want to thank the supply department for all their help,” the sailor said, which included tracking down contacts for the test kit, making appointments at the local Navy hospital, kicking in some money to help get him home — and most of all, giving him the time off from work.

Joshua Isenberg’s donation won’t adversely impact his service in the Navy, he said.

“The only impact on me is that doctors told me they don’t want me to do contact sports. I guess I’ll have to cancel that NFL draft then.”

Both father and son say they healing remarkably well.

“I’m doing great, getting better every day,” David Isenberg said. “I really love my son for doing this. It’s a great, great Christmas gift, I can tell you that.”

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