A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Tim Hanner, kidney transplant-recipient-in-waiting (thanks to COVID-19) remains positive and hopeful


By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

By now we thought Tim Hanner — teacher, superintendent, and founder of NaviGo career-prep — would have had his kidney transplant and be far along on the road to recovery.

But COVID-19 had other, sinister ideas, and its pandemic put a hold on “elective” surgeries just a few weeks before Hanner and his donor, Alyssa Vanderpool, were scheduled for the long-awaited surgery.

Hanner has been in lock-down, like the rest of us, but for obviously more serious reasons, as an extremely vulnerable transplant-recipient-in-waiting.

Alyssa Vanderpool, a teacher at Johnson Elementary, has been waiting, too, while teaching her students virtually, NonTraditional Instruction style.

Nothing has progressed the way it was supposed to. But these two positive spirits just won’t let anything get them down

Today, Hanner is weeks away from a new date for his transplant at Christ Hospital. Though Kentucky is starting to relax some rules related to healthcare, elective surgeries are not yet on the list. Christ is submitting its own phase-in plan to the state of Ohio — but that’s a work in progress with no quick remedy.

Hanner is on dialysis three days a week, is keeping his weight goal, and reports that all his caregivers are “incredible,” including wife Marlene with whom he is homebound.

He misses his grandchildren — and sees them only from afar beyond the window. His sanctuary when the weather is sunny is his backyard where he enjoys the extensive landscaping and the redbuds — and a lounge where he can fall asleep.

He misses no opportunity to be grateful — and to stay positive.

He does mow his own grass, though admits it takes him a lot longer these days given the time-outs he needs.

Some of the Facebook ‘Vulnerable’ group.

Hanner has no patience for doing nothing, so he had to do something. He started a Facebook group, Putting a Face on the Vulnerable, which now has over 2100 members, so that people most vulnerable to COVID-19 could gather to “get through this together.”

People share pictures and stories and laughter and tears and advice — and hope.

“There are many people regardless of age, who fall into these (vulnerable — elderly, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease compromised immune systems) categories,” he wrote in establishing the site. “It is important that everyone takes all of the precautions necessary to help protect those highest at-risk. Please post pictures of yourself if you fall into these categories — or post pictures of ones you love. The positive approach to showing the faces of who we are working to protect, save and honor can make a difference! Please share this page and invite friends to start a movement. It is public! We will get through this together with courage, prayers, and action. Be blessed.”

In addition, he stays in touch with his friends, keeps up with current events, and binge-watches movies with Marlene.

And he never gives up hope.

• • • • • • • • • •

See the NKyTribune’s story about Tim and Alyssa here.

See the NKyTribune’s story about Tim’s search for a new kidney here.


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2 Comments

  1. Johnda Lane says:

    My Prayers are with you, your donor & All family involved & know God is Watching Over, Keep your Faith & Thank You for Thinking of others while dealing with your battle; God Bless & Much Love, Life & Hope your way ♥️

  2. Clarence says:

    God wants you to be an example to others in these strange times. You will get your kidney and you will look back upon your transplant and realize you were an inspiration to thousands! PS. Just got my kidney in Dec.

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