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Richard Protsman grew up in the small town of Lansing, Iowa, the youngest of five children. As a “river rat,” he spent his free time fishing and boating in summer and helping his dad with commercial fishing in winter on the Mississippi River. In 1971, facing a low draft number, he chose to enlist in the U.S. Navy, leaving home a month before his 18th birthday for boot camp in San Diego, California.

Upon graduating, he was assigned to the U.S.S. Meyerkord, a destroyer escort. Two deployments took him from Hawaii to the Philippines to the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam as the ship carried supplies to the troops. Upon his discharge from the military he stayed in California for a time before returning to Northeast Iowa and the city of Waukon where he met his future wife, Melodye, whom he married in May of 1980. He purchased a home and settled there with her daughter, Emily. They went on to have three more
children— Colin, Myrta, and Grant.

Richard worked in roofing, was employed in a hardware store, worked with a local construction company building pole buildings, was a groundskeeper at the local high school, and drove a school bus for 15 years. Along the way, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Upper Iowa University by attending evening classes at an off-campus site in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. In January of 1998, he chose a new career as an over-the-road truck driver going from coast to coast, all over the south, and even into Canada a couple of times. That career was cut short by health issues.

In 1982 he was diagnosed with hypertension and kidney disease. Doctors were still learning how to deal
with kidney issues. He was prescribed medication to manage his kidney functioning, hoping to extend it
from five years to ten before he would have bigger issues. He made it 38 years instead, but in 2018 his
luck took a downturn. He could not pass a DOT physical due to his high blood pressure and was forced
to retire from truck driving. In early 2020 newly approved for VA health care he made an appointment
with his local VA clinic. His kidney function was down to 7% and he needed immediate dialysis. He was
sent to the Iowa City VA hospital to begin. Two weeks later COVID hit. It took about 18 months for Richard to finally be listed at the VA for a kidney transplant. In January of 2023, he got listed at the Mayo Clinic. Because he was already on dialysis his start date on the list goes back to the date he began dialysis. Unfortunately, Richard has type B blood which is one of the rarer types meaning he will wait on the list longer than most. Daughter Myrta was evaluated to be his donor as she has the same blood type but she was not approved.

With a transplant, Richard would no longer be tied to three times-a-week dialysis. He wants to be able
to spend more quality time with his wife and children, seven grandchildren, and nine great- grandchildren, continue his volunteer work with the local food shelf, help out friends, enjoy the Polaris Slingshot he recently purchased, and ride his motorcycle when he can. He has enlisted the help of a Veteran's organization called DOVE Transplant which is helping in his outreach to find his life-saving kidney donor. DOVE will assist all prospective donors throughout the process and make sure they do not incur any out-of-pocket expenses related to the evaluation or surgery.

A healthy person can live a normal life with one kidney and save this Veteran's life! Please click on the link below if you would like to learn more OR call 551-449-8319.

Richard Protsman

Navy Veteran

Interested in Becoming a DOVE Donor?
Click the button below to learn more about the process and eligibility requirements.

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