It’s a match

“We are family” :Front row, Gary Chain, Buster, Cathy and Garrett Pawelek. Second Row, Renee Work, Virginia Chain and Clint Chain. Third row, John Work, Makayla Chain and Victor Work. COURTESY PHOTO | MARKIE GASCH NICEWARNER

“We are family” :Front row, Gary Chain, Buster, Cathy and Garrett Pawelek. Second Row, Renee Work, Virginia Chain and Clint Chain. Third row, John Work, Makayla Chain and Victor Work. COURTESY PHOTO | MARKIE GASCH NICEWARNER

Roy “Buster” Pawelek of Poteet was diagnosed in December with renal failure and was in the hospital for a total of 31 days. Pawelek said he is now a connoisseur of hospitals having stayed in Mission Trails Baptist, Methodist San Antonio and Methodist South Hospital in Jourdanton.

He has been in dialysis since the end of February three days a week – Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays “It takes about 4 hours and 45 minutes of dialysis every other day, so that’s a job within a job,” said Pawelek. Pawelek did not want to think that this was what life would look like. He met a man that had been receiving dialysis for 25 years. Pawelek opted to get on the kidney transplant list on July 19.

Methodist Transplant Center started checking Pawelek out and checking out eight potential donors. Three were matches which is “pretty unusual” according to Pawelek. According to Texas Organ Sharing Alliance more than 8,000 Texans are waiting for a kidney.

Two of the matches were close friends, Virginia Chain, 33, and her mother Renee Work and one was of a longtime friend’s daughter named Amanda that got tested in North Dallas. “Her dad and me worked together in the early 80s. She’d never met us. The last time we’d seen her she was a baby in diapers and she’s 34.”

BBQ crew left to right, Jasper McNair, Cody Rocha, Garrett Pawelek, Hagan Rush, TJ Walker, Woode Henry, Jo Jo Pat, Bradley Work and Mike Mann. COURTESY PHOTO | MARKIE GASCH NICEWARNER

BBQ crew left to right, Jasper McNair, Cody Rocha, Garrett Pawelek, Hagan Rush, TJ Walker, Woode Henry, Jo Jo Pat, Bradley Work and Mike Mann. COURTESY PHOTO | MARKIE GASCH NICEWARNER

“I feel blessed that there were three matches in that few of people,” said Pawelek. “So I’m extremely blessed. There is a woman I’ve met that has been on dialysis for years and they’ve been looking three years and no match.”

Pawelek said the criteria to be a match is extensive. “That there has to be a blood type match, the donor and the recipient’s blood type has to be compatible with one another,” said Pawelek. “There are certain blood types that are what they call universal donors and certain blood types are universal recipients and then they have to worry about whether it’s not one of those that’s a universal donor or recipient of what blood types they can actually receive, so there’s many factors.” Pawelek said that once they receive the blood types of the donor and the recipient they do a tissue match and they have to make sure that when they mix the two bloods together that there’s not any kind of reaction, so it causes a negative reaction.

Virginia was the first match and she was notified Friday.

“Yes, she was the first match,” said Renee Work, Virginia’s mother and the second match. “They notified her on a Friday. And what they do is, once they receive the person is a match then they have to present it to the medical team. The medical team looks over everything to see if they can proceed with them. So they notified her and she told them that she wanted to proceed. The following Tuesday they notified me that I was also a match. And we had a discussion on who was going to proceed.”

Pawelek interrupts with a laugh saying, “No, y’all had a cat fight. I feel privileged because that’s the first time I had two women fight over me.”

Pawelek said that Virginia has been an ornery little cuss ever since she’s a baby. He said he was very worried about what would happen to her if she donated. “I think Renee can vouch, when I was in the transplant center talking to the social worker I guess my only question was ‘What if I get a kidney from either person, any person, and then I find out later they have a problem with their kidney? That’s going to devastate me because I have one kidney that is theirs or was theirs and now they’re having problems. The transplant center assured me if that ever happens, and it has happened, that they go to the top of the donor’s list.”

Pawelek said that for a donor to come from either one of these is a blessing because I’ve known them all my life pretty much, the better part of my life anyway. “I guess, I don’t know what to say about that, it’s just that I don’t think no words can describe it,” said Pawelek.

When asked what donating to Pawelek means to her Virginia stated, “ It’s a blessing to me. He’s been like a second dad and uncle to me forever so, I was pretty excited that I was. We weren’t sure and then everything came out to be great and okay and all the testing came out to be great and okay. They already submitted it to the board for surgery so I’m cleared completely and we’re just waiting on his stuff to clear and we’re good to go.”

The duo have about four to eight weeks before all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed. Pawelek has an appointment on the 30th then everything will be submitted to the transplant board with surgery following a couple weeks after that fact. “Most likely the first of October. Your birthday,” said Cathy Pawelek, his wife of 33 years.

“Yes, October 2nd. May get a new kidney for my birthday. And, a new lease on life.”

Last weekend, Pawelek’s cousin, Darlene Robinson Henry and her husband Woode who is also Pawelek’s best friend held a fundraising event at Strawberry Pines featuring BBQ plate dinners, dance and auction raising funds to help offset the cost of the kidney transplant.

“Buster is my cousin,” said Henry who owns Strawberry Pines in Poteet. “We had an event already planned, an end of the summer barn dance. My husband and I had already talked about just quietly having the barn dance and then giving the proceeds as a donation without anyone knowing it was a fundraiser. But, we decided to make it public. We called Cathy and asked if it was ok. It’s amazing how many people have pulled to together because normally a fundraiser of this magnitude can take months to plan.” Cathy pulled together a quick thank you list but is very anxious that she has left someone out. She said she is pulling together the whole list and will have it published in the Pleasanton Express next week. She is sorry in advance if anyone is left out. Darlene, Woode and crew pulled the whole event together in two weeks. Many thanks they say go to the following donors and helpers: Jourdanton Fire Dept, Ag Pro, Roy Alonzo, Vangie and Daniel Antu, TJ and Renee Walker, Shana Baker, Martina Walleck, Bella Grace Boutique, Simply Southern Boutique, Telisha Cox , DeLeon Family, Larry and Phyllis Bauer, Rafter G Welder, Shad Griffin, Shenna Hayden, Rebecca Horn, Crazy Heifer, Jasik Hay Farm, Katie Jasik, Lyssy Eckels Feed, Tammy Blalock, Falls City Milling Company, Steven and Becky Buendal, Diana and Joey Casey, Gorman, Traci Chain, Jo Ann Houston Clapton, Brenda and Ram Guerrero, Stephen Jenschke, Strawberry Pines, Myrtle LaGrange, Live Oak Coffee, Dorothy Manning, Armand and Beverly Martinez, Robert and Denise Martinez, Duane and Sharon Mayberry, Donna and Glenn Mills, Marie Nachmann, Linda Pawlik, Wilco Peanut Company, Randy and Debbie Pawelek, Panna Maria, Gary and Belinda Pawelek, Rhonda Williamson, Natalie Pheifer, Poteet Winery, Jessica Jenschke Rakowitz, Immarrd Reed, Lori Riley, Tina Tetters, First Baptist Church, Tonya and Rocky Robert, Michael and Lana Robertson, Pleasanton Express, Southern Ruckus BBQ Company, Tuttle Motor Company, Lois Tymrak, Karen and Dennis Walston and Ms Pfiel.

A kidney transplant is incredibly expensive and there are a lot of out of pocket cost not covered by insurance. Donations can be made to Karnes County National Bank in Karnes City Texas made to the Roy Pawelek Medical Fund. Roy “Buster” Pawelek and his family have lived in Atascosa County their whole life. Pawelek has had numerous jobs including working at the coal mine but primarily considers himself a farmer. He was president of the Young Farmers Association in the early 90s.

Texans are encouraged to sign up and save lives as organ, eye and tissue donors on the official state registry Donate Life Texas by visiting the TOSA website at or when renewing their license or Texas vehicle registration.

Those seeking information on living donation can find helpful links on Donate Life Texas’ website:

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