Current Issue / DU Alumni

Donated kidney allows alum to live his dreams

Daniel Sise with his sports carDaniel Sise (BSBA ’74) is a man on two missions.

The first finds him spreading the word about organ and tissue donation for the Donor Alliance. The second finds him listening to the birds sing through his open window and vowing — every morning — to live each day as though it could be his last.

Ten years ago, on Feb. 26, 1997, Sise received a kidney from his sister, Burchell Valldejuli — a gift that saved his life and changed it forever.

“Almost immediately, I could smell again,” Sise recalls. “My blood was being purified by my sister’s kidney and I could smell the spring flowers. I would just stop and look at the sky and thank God that I was alive.”

But the journey hasn’t been easy. When he left the hospital, Sise was taking 40 pills a day; it was a full-time job just to remember what pill to take when. Doctors also drew blood from him every single day.

“As time passes, they strip you off some of the pills,” Sise says. “And you go to the doctors less and less. Now, I’m up to once every four months.”

Sise says the 10-year anniversary is a big milestone both mentally and medically.

“They say that if you have a living, related donor and the kidney makes it 10 years, that’s a big deal,” says Sise. “I will probably have it the rest of my life. At 10 years, I don’t think about it every single day, but for eight years, I thought about it nonstop.”

Now, Sise volunteers for the Donor Alliance, educating people about tissue and organ donation. In Colorado and Wyoming alone, he says, more than 1,700 people are waiting for an organ transplant; 970 of them are in need of a kidney.

He says he also approaches each day with joy — and speed.

He recently purchased a Lotus Elise sports car and takes it to a racetrack in La Junta, Colo.

“Of course, you have to be financially responsible,” says Sise, “but when you live through something like I’ve been through, if you have a dream, you go for it!”


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