ENGLEWOOD — A man who saved three people from drowning, Sandy Bilsky is now trying to get others save his own life.
Bilsky, 78, was diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure. His kidneys don’t filter wastes and excess fluids from his blood.
He spends half of his time in dialysis.
“My system isn’t doing well with that,” he said. “To survive, I need a kidney donor — quickly. While I am registered with Tampa General and The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, I’ve been told it’s a five-year wait with 100,000 people in front of me. I won’t make it.”
With end-stage renal disease, a patient often needs dialysis or a kidney transplant in to stay alive. Bilsky has been battling the disease since April 2019.
“I’m not looking for money, food — I am looking for help saving my life,” he said.
He had worked as a negotiator for a real estate firm.
“When you negotiate for the largest private real estate company in the world, that puts a little bit of stress on the body.”
Bilsky says he’s always been like the Energizer Bunny and doesn’t live like a typical 78-year-old. He loves “heavy gardening,” sailing, fishing and bike riding.
He has traveled extensively as well — and while in Englewood, has saved three people from drowning outside Stump Pass through the years.
Bilsky received two letters of commendation from U.S Coast Guard commandants. He is the diversity officer for Englewood Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 87.
“I do not consider myself a hero, but frankly speaking, I now need a hero to save my life,” he said. “The only solution is to find a kidney donor on my own. I am doing everything possible. I have a Facebook page devoted to this search.”
If anyone wants to give Bilsky a kidney, but they are not a match, their kidney doesn’t go to him, but to the next person in the program who is a match.
“I then move up the list and get a kidney that is my match from a stranger,” he said, adding it could reduce his wait time to about a year.
His insurance will cover all the costs, including a donors stay in the hospital and follow up appointments they will need.
“It’s set up nicely to help the donor. I have so much more information I can share with a potential donor match,” he said. “I just hope I have that opportunity real soon. I’m not going to give up. It’s not my time.”