New kidney gives recipient new life, and new outlook

John Rosebeary - Courtesy of John Rosebeary
John Rosebeary
— image credit: Courtesy of John Rosebeary

POULSBO — John Rosebeary’s new kidney did more than add years to his life. It gave him a new way of looking at the world, an ability to separate life’s chaff from what’s really important.

Before April 2011, when end-stage renal disease put him on dialysis three days per week, five hours a day, he was a workaholic, sometimes going into the office at 2 a.m. and clocking out at 7 p.m. He’d feel guilty if he took time off for himself.

Too much time behind the desk … it’s easy to figure out where that led. He developed high blood pressure, and high blood pressure is the No. 2 cause of kidney disease.

At 51, he was living because of a dialysis machine on Powder Hill.

Potential transplants fell through. Then, Jonathan Ogilvie, a close family friend now living in Dallas, offered to donate a kidney. Tests found him to be a perfect  match. On Jan. 14, surgeons at Virginia Mason Medical Center removed a kidney from Ogilvie’s body and transplanted it into Rosebeary’s.

Feb. 18 was Rosebeary’s first day back on the job at Viking Fence, of which he is part-owner.

“He gave me part of his life,” Rosebeary said of Ogilvie. “I have a responsibility, I owe him and his kindness to take care of myself, to live my life in a way worthy of someone doing that for me.”

Rosebeary is recovering with the zest of the rodeo rider he once was. “I have way more energy,” he said. “My mind is a lot clearer. I look different and I feel different.”

He’s lost 30 pounds — much of it water that his body had retained because of the non-functioning kidneys — and doctors have already reduced the drugs that keep his body from rejecting the transplant. He’s been cleared to start using a treadmill and resistance bands. He’s looking forward to weight training someday. And his horses … well, they’ll be doing more than grazing soon. Rosebeary will be getting back into the saddle.

“There’s been a mental shift, knowing I have to take better care of myself. And I have the energy to do that now,” he said. “My work schedule will change. I won’t take myself or my work too seriously. I’ll try and not let it overwhelm me as it has in the past.”

He has plans for those 15 hours a week he used to spend on dialysis: He wants to help other dialysis patients, sharing his own experience and counseling them.

That sounds like the John Rosebeary that Julie Johnson knows: The guy who supports Little League and his children’s school. The guy who founded Corey’s Day Classic Golf Tournament to raise money for Corey’s Day on the Farm. The rodeo aficionado who directed the Thunderbird Pro Rodeo at the Kitsap Fair and Stampede.

“He’s a giving man, but he’s not comfortable receiving,” Johnson said.

She’s organizing a fundraiser to help cover the costs of post-transplant medication that won’t be covered by insurance.

“He has insurance — good insurance — but as you know, insurance doesn’t always pay for everything,” Johnson said. One prescription, for example, costs $12,000 for a one-month supply; Rosebeary’s share of the cost is $1,703.

“He’s got 10 other bottles of stuff he’s got to take,” Johnson said.

A fundraising campaign has been established with HelpHOPELive, a nonprofit organization. All donations are tax-deductible, are held by HelpHOPELive and are administered for transplant-related expenses only.

Make checks payable to HelpHOPELive — note “John Rosebeary” in the memo section — and send to HelpHOPELive, 2 Radnor Corporate Center, 100 Matsonford Road, Suite 100, Radnor, PA 19087. To make a credit card contribution, call 800-642-8399 or go to and enter John Rosebeary in the “Find a Patient” box on the home page.

The fundraiser is May 3, 7-11 p.m., at Gold Mountain Golf Course in Bremerton. Admission is a $25 tax-deductible donation. There will be a live and silent auction, light snacks, menu items for purchase, and dancing. The Joey James Dean Band will perform for an hour, followed by D.J. Coal Train.

Among the auction items: Western art (including a handblown glass cowboy hat), autographed rodeo memorabilia, and possibly an item autographed by some of the Seahawks.

Rosebeary is donating a couple of items for his own fundraiser: A vintage sign from the old J&M Cafe in Seattle, and a vintage gas pump.

“It’s one of the things I struggle with,” Rosebeary said of being the subject of other’s generosity. “A couple of people have told me that sometimes God puts it in your lap and you have to sit back and be the recipient and take the blessing.”

Johnson said someone is loaning a timeshare to Ogilvie and his wife. If anyone has air miles they’d like to donate so the Ogilvies can take advantage of the offer, contact Johnson at 360-204-0101 or



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