Steve Winfree and his wife Heather have been through a great deal in their marriage, most of it tied to Steve’s rare health issues. Once an elite athlete whose problems were first diagnosed at 18 when he was readying to play basketball for Maryville College outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, Winfree has the rare combination of three diseases, rare to have together, chronic kidney disease, gout attacks — painful inflammation in the joints caused by uric acid and adult-onset type 1 diabetes, which reacts to his other ailments and adds to the pain.
The combination of the three diseases means that while his body overproduces uric acid, he’s allergic to the only medication to relieve his gout attacks. Dialysis was the last and only resort for him, as he is now 31. That and a kidney transplant. The disease had even forced the couple to lose their two foster children, due to Steve’s fast growing disability (although they stay in close contact with the pair).
Through it all, Steve has remained upbeat and active in his community and is still a diehard sports fan, especially supporting The University of Tennessee and the Atlanta Braves. This presented Heather with a unique way to bring Steve some great news. She decided to break the news to Steve that SHE had decided to donate her kidney to him, with a card hidden in a pack of Topps Bowman Platnum Series cards. The Topps Company allows fans to create their own cards with their own images and the card was delivered today.
The operation will take place in the coming weeks but with the MLB All-Star Game on the horizon, it is a pretty special way to help tell a story through the magic of sports, and technology.