Shark Tank Winner, 57, Fighting for His Life After Donating Kidney

A Shark Tank winner who donated his kidney to help save a friend’s ailing mother is now in a fight for his own life after suffering complications from the surgery. 

Kevin Kiernan’s saga began nine months ago when the 57-year-old decided to give his kidney to his old college friend’s 77-year-old mother. 

When the New Jersey resident learned he was a match, the decision was already made. He said, ‘she needed something I had… it was pretty simple.’ 

The January 9 transplant surgery went well for both Kiernan and the elderly woman but days after the procedure, the divorced father-of-three started to suffer complications. 

He developed a hernia, a hematoma, abdominal pain, and a raging infection that he says was prompted by a mesh implant during the hernia procedure.

Kiernan, who has been in and out of the hospital since, told that he was in excellent health before the surgery, and has been devastated by the ordeal. 

‘I was riding my bicycle 20 miles a day. I always maintained a strict bloodwork/physical/male maintenance for my entire life,’ he said. 

‘I was a football player at Villanova. My nickname is Kendoo because I can do anything. Five months of testing and bloodwork and stamina tests and more blood tests – proved one thing – I was in excellent shape.’

Kiernan, who works a commercial pool operator now, appeared on Shark Tank in 2012, season 3 episode 5, with his innovative product, The Last Lid, a fabric trash can lid. The deal he struck on the show was $40,000 and with 50 percent of his company.

He told ‘somehow someway I left that operating room with new injuries – no question about it.’

‘My medical records show that I was sent home with a hernia. Hernias are extremely rare after kidney removal.’

He said he was diagnosed with ‘fascial dehiscence’ a complication from surgery that results in the need for additional surgery,’ as per his medical records.

‘No one said anything remotely close to that while I was in the hospital immediately after the donation surgery. I was touched and poked and prodded for three days before I went home. Not one of the medical professionals suggested I had a hernia. 

‘How does one get a hernia during a kidney donation?’ he asked. 

‘Secondly – the hematoma – a result of me getting roughed up during the hernia surgery,’ he added.

Kiernan told that he had to undergo three additional surgeries and two medical procedures, and just learned this week that he may have to have another surgery. 

In April, he said he received a letter from NYU Langone Medical Center, informing him that they can no longer cover his medical expenses. 

His condition has kept him out of work, and he has no health insurance. 

‘NYU just dropped me rather than follow through to the end,’ he said. 

When reached out to NYU Langone Medical Center,  hospital spokesperson Steve Reiter, responded: ‘NYU Langone encourages and is grateful to all organ donors, who provide others with a lifesaving gift. 

‘While complications from living donation are extremely rare, there is an extensive process in place to provide every aspect of care to donors and they are not responsible for any costs related to their donation. 

‘The NYU Langone Transplant Institute team supports our donors throughout their experience. If a donor has a medical bill that they are unsure is related to donation, our clinical team and financial counselors assist the donor.

‘In this case, the care was completely consistent with these policies and practices.’

Kiernan, who was living in Boca Raton and had come to New York for the transplant, calls the ordeal the ‘most unexpected and challenging situation I’ve ever been in.’

As difficult at it has been, Kiernan said, he ‘would do it over again without question.’ 

‘At 1 percent – I got a 99 percent chance of getting it right the second time around,’ he said.

To help alleviate the financial burden, he and his family are facing, his son Zachary, 24, started a GoFundMe

As of Friday, nearly, $17,000 has been raised towards their goal of $20,000. 

One thought on “Shark Tank Winner, 57, Fighting for His Life After Donating Kidney

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  1. I would think a 77 year old woman too old to take an organ from somebody. Once you lose a kidney, you are never as healthy & strong as you were.

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