One Call Can Change a Man’s Life: The Powerful Story of Bruce Tippets (posted Dec. 17, 2018)

Written by Melinda Starling, AAKP Communications Intern


Chronic kidney disease takes a toll on anybody. Add to that years of dialysis and false alarms and it’s easy to understand the battle that Bruce Tippets has had to endure.

Hope is something that we all have in challenging situations, but it can be lost very quickly on the brink of failure. Here is one man’s story of how you should never lose hope. If you’re battling chronic kidney disease, “the call will come sometime.”


Bruce’s Journey

Bruce Tippets is a sports reporter living in Vernal, Utah. He was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2009 after waking up from a coma following double pneumonia. Staying in the hospital for a month and a half afterwards, he began the process of dialysis for the first time.

At the time, Bruce and his wife were living in Riverton, Wyoming, and had to make the forty-five minute drive to Fort Washakie for his dialysis treatments.

Through lots of prayer, Bruce’s kidney began functioning normally a few months later, but failed again around April of 2014, when he had to be life-flighted back to Salt Lake. Here, he began the process of full-time dialysis, which lasted until mid-October of this year.

Being on full-time in-center dialysis and working forty-five minutes away proved to be an obstacle for Bruce and his wife, so they decided to make the move to Vernal where he would take on a newspaper job about five minutes away from his dialysis center. He went to treatments in the morning and worked right after.

Bruce had to overcome three major obstacles before he could be added to the transplant list. He had to overcome his fear of going to the dentist, the cardiologist, and he had to lose weight. At first, these seemed impossible to him and caused him to not even want to be added to the list. However, his amazing support team kept reminding him of how important it was that he get on the waiting list. Through hard work and perseverance, he was finally added to it in May of 2018.

Since he had been on dialysis for four years, Bruce was pretty high up on the list, which is why he was so excited to get the call about a potential match in September of 2018. However, upon arriving in Salt Lake, he was disappointed to find that it was not a match.

Even through the false alarm, Bruce kept high hopes and knew that he’d get another call eventually. And he did.

On October 18, 2018, at 6:30 a.m., while Bruce was sleeping, he got the phone call and was on the road by 7 a.m., as he knew this was very time-sensitive. He drove to Salt Lake where his life would change forever.

Making it to the city by 10:15 a.m., he was very relieved to find the kidney was a match and surgery began just a little over an hour later.

After surgery, he stayed in the hospital for five days and then in Salt Lake for three weeks, where his recovery could be closely monitored and he could spend time with his father, who was his full-time care partner. While there, he toured the capital building and even met the governor of Utah!


Getting Back to a Normal Life

Bruce returned to his job on November 14, less than a month after his transplant. Prior to returning, he got the chance to report on the University of Utah versus Oregon football game, which he was very excited about. 


Moving Forward

While he has no immediate plans for celebration, Bruce is happy that he is able to share his experience with others and bring awareness to chronic kidney disease.

During this recovery process, Bruce will be visiting a kidney clinic every two weeks to ensure everything is running smoothly, but that will drop to just once a month beginning in January. He feels this is a small price to pay after being given a second chance at life.


Don’t ever give up. There is always hope, so don’t get discouraged because “the call will come sometime.”

Bruce tackled his obstacles, but it wasn’t an easy fight. He shared these pieces of advice for anyone who might be going through the same situation that he found himself in:

  • “Don’t let dialysis get you down.”
  • Know your treatment options when it comes to different types of dialysis and different types of organ donations.
  • “Don’t miss your dialysis appointments. No matter how tired you are or how bad the weather may be, or if you’re on a home dialysis therapy, don’t skip a treatment.”
  • Always listen to what the doctors/nurses say; your healthcare team is there for you and if you feel they aren’t, you have every right to change to a new doctor and team.
  • “Having a support system is the most important part.” It is not a journey that anyone can go alone. Whether your support system be your family, friends, your faith, or your doctors/nurses, their support is ultimately what will help get you through the obstacles.


Photos below (left to right): Bruce on dialysis; Bruce and his dad meeting the Utah Governor; Bruce at work