Because Travis Spire-Sweet was born with part of one kidney, doctors didn’t expect him to outlive his first birthday.
Twenty-nine years later, Spire-Sweet is thriving. He spent much of his adult life learning to manage the pain and side effects of his chronic kidney problems through healthy eating, exercise and Chinese medicine.
Spire-Sweet, an acupuncturist at Missouri Acupuncture Services in the Crossroads Arts District, has used his knowledge to help others, too. At work, he helps people manage pain and side effects from a wide range of illnesses. And in his free time, he advocates for kidney patients and is working to start a nonprofit acupuncture clinic in Kansas City.
Now, Spire-Sweet’s friends are planning a benefit on Saturday to raise money for his upcoming kidney transplant. Spire-Sweet, whose kidney function has been declining in recent months, has health insurance. But it doesn’t cover all the costs associated with a transplant, such as co-pays, deductibles, donor expenses and immunosuppressant medications he will need to take for the rest of his life.
One of the benefit’s organizers, Kelly Morken, says while she was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, Spire-Sweet helped her prepare for the Boston Marathon. Morken says it feels good to give back to a friend who has done so much for her.
“He always talks about what he’s trying to accomplish and do for others instead of taking time for himself,” she says. “He’s nuts.”