Justin Pratt and his family. Photo provided by Pratt via text.

ALTON – A visit to the dentist for Justin Pratt turned into a life-changing series of events after stroke-level high blood pressure alerted dentists there was something wrong.

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Pratt decided to go to the doctor to address the blood pressure, which was dangerously high. After running a few tests, however, doctors gave Pratt the news his kidney function was diminished to around 15 percent. He said he had been aware of protein issues in his urine since he was 19, but had no idea it had evolved into full-blown kidney failure. At 36 years old, Pratt was facing lifelong dialysis or a kidney transplant. His family created a GoFundMe to raise awareness and possibly find a donor, but he was not expecting much.

“We wanted to leave the donor anonymous to not put pressure on friends and family,” he said. “We know it's a big deal and a huge commitment to ask for a piece of someone's body. It's a hard ask, but we got a pretty positive response.”

One of the people who saw the GoFundMe was Tina Newlun Breeding who attended leadership training through Carmedic with Pratt. She was scrolling through Facebook soon after Pratt's sister-in-law posted the GoFundMe on his page and decided to look at it. She said it was not like the usual GoFundMe pages she sees while mindlessly scrolling.

“I emailed his wife and filled out a questionnaire in May,” she said. “I didn't hear anything until June, and the hospital called me and said I was being considered by a donor. I didn't hear anything for a while again, and assumed they had found another donor and was excited for them. Then I got the call in July to come for testing in August.”

Tina Breeding photo from her Facebook page.

On Aug. 12, Breeding went to Chicago with Jesse Weller and spent the first day enjoying the sites and sounds of the Windy City. Both described it as a vacation experience. The next day, however, Breeding went in for testing at a Chicago hospital, where she spent upwards of 12 hours with Weller, before driving five and a half hours home to Roxana – departing at 7:30 p.m.

Up to this point, Breeding said she had not mentioned anything to Pratt's family. She did not want to up their hopes just for them to be crushed if it was not able to occur.

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Following the extensive testing, Breeding said she conducted a phone interview in September before doctors contacted her on Oct. 4 to select a date for the transplant to take place. At that point, she decided it was time to tell Pratt and his family.

To do this and maintain the element of surprise, she said she contacted Pratt and his wife, saying she had a work issue and required talking to both a husband and a wife about it. She requested they talk on speakerphone. When she had them on the other end, though, she admitted it was not about a work issue and “blurted out” the good news. She said they were confused at the news.

“I was speechless, she was crying,” Pratt said. “She wanted to let us know in a fun way, and she wasn't sure how to do it. It was pretty special that she told us this way.”

The next step for Breeding is a class for donors in Chicago and another blood draw and CAT scan to ensure blood is available in case a transfusion is necessary and that the location of her kidneys are known.

“I'm only doing this, because it's a good thing to do,” she said. “If someone needs something, you do what you can and step in. These days, it's hard to be there for your friends, but be there, even if they just need dinner or something like their yard mowed or leaves raked. Just be there for your friends.”

Breeding said she will travel to Chicago on Nov. 7 with her parents and go through the donation on Nov. 8. She said she will be discharged from the hospital the next day and will stay in a Chicago hotel for a week before returning to the hospital to get formally discharged.

From there, she will return home, where she will recover for the next four-to-six weeks. She said she spoke to her office manager and Carmedic CEO before this process, adding they were fully supportive of her decision. She added, however, that she will not be paid during her recovery.

To help Breeding during her recovery time, her travel partner Weller is creating a benefit at Bottle and Barrel with the help of Casey Bennington. The benefit will include a basket raffle as well as a live DJ who donated their time. Anyone who wants to donate something toward the basket raffle is asked to contact Weller at (618) 610-7577.

Pratt, who lives in Michigan, said he is incredibly grateful for Breeding's kindness, adding it is something of a gift between rivals.

“I think it's great,” he said. “And I think it's really great that I've found out that she's a Cardinals fan and I love the Cubs.”

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