TX Sen. Kelly Hancock Recovers After Receiving a Kidney from His Son-in-Law

July 13, 2022


North Richland Hills state senator has had a rare kidney disease for more than 30 years

By Julie Fine

Before Wednesday, few people knew State Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) had been diagnosed with a rare kidney disease for more than three decades.

Thanks to a donation from his son-in-law, Hancock underwent a successful transplant Wednesday afternoon and both men are doing well in recovery.

Prior to the surgery, Hancock and his son-in-law spoke with NBC 5.

“I don’t look like that I have organs failing. I do. I have had one failing for a long time,” said Hancock, who is an energetic lawmaker and a marathon runner. “I have wanted to live a full life without people knowing, or feeling sorry for me, or whatever, in order to get to the point that I could say, that I could be here and say, ‘God is sufficient and I am good with it.’”

Hancock made a visit to his doctor 31 years ago after not feeling well while playing racquetball. Tests would reveal he had IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease.

The disease occurs when immunoglobulin A deposits build up in the kidneys, causing inflammation that damages kidney tissues. IgA is an antibody—a protein made by the immune system to protect the body from foreign substances such as bacteria or viruses, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Moving forward, Hancock was regularly tested for kidney function, watched his diet and tried to stay as healthy as possible. Six years ago, he was told he would need a kidney within two years. He beat the clock, for years, until late last year when his doctor said he was at a point where he needed a new kidney.

“There is a threshold that you can’t get on the transplant list until you are bad, bad, bad, and so I had to be bad, bad, bad to get there, and he was like, ‘Alright, I need you to come in and test again,’ and that is when I was like, ‘OK, I am there,’” said Hancock.

Then it came to telling his family, which he did at Thanksgiving. At first, he tried to make light of it, but they all faced the reality.

“That is when I told them, I said, ‘Look, I was making light because that is what I do. That is how I deal with stuff.’ But the reality is I need a kidney and you know the only way really to do it is that I am going to have to be on dialysis for five to seven years to qualify for a deceased donor,” Hancock explained.

But his family was quick to get tested to see if they could make a donation to him. It turned out, it wasn’t a blood relative that was the best match.

“I got tested thinking of course I’ll be supportive. I’ll go get tested. There is no way this would work, thinking my wife would be the match, or somebody else,” said son-in-law Greg Cox. “You don’t get the opportunity to help somebody like this, and Kelly would do the same for anybody that he loved without thinking, without having to be asked, and so it’s neat to be able to do it.”

Through everything, the Hancocks have relied on faith and stayed positive.

While he has kept the news of his transplant to himself, for the most part, Hancock now said he wants to raise awareness.

Through this, he said, he has seen first-hand the need that is out there and that the healthier you are the lower you are on the list for a transplant and the longer you will be on dialysis because of greater demand than supply.

“I was blessed, incredibly fortunate to have a living donor — 2.5% of the people who have kidney transplants do it before going on dialysis,” said Hancock, adding “organ donation is very feasible, it is very doable, and I don’t think we promote it enough or talk about it enough and it is a very private issue, but we wanted to bring attention too. We can address these issues. We can address these needs. And people, there is a need.”

The recovery for Hancock and Cox isn’t easy and could take several months. But they are ready and hope their story will help others.

Hancock is serving in his third term in the Texas legislature. He is running against Democrat Gwenn Burud in November.

“As a fellow Texan, I am joined by my staff, volunteers and supporters as we keep Senator Hancock and his family in our hearts and minds,” Burud said in a statement Wednesday night.

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