A Williston boy who had been fighting for his life due to a progressive kidney disease got the miracle his family had been praying for, thanks to a Fargo nurse with Williston ties.
Ashton Hanson, 13, is back home and back to school, and he’s working on his own personal bucket list. That isn’t a list of things to do before he dies, however. It’s a list of all the things he couldn’t do before he got his new kidney.
Included on that list is a camping trip this weekend with his Boy Scout troop. There’s also playing with his friends past 7:30 p.m., and riding his bike and his scooter as if they came with wings.
He’s also eating most of his favorite foods — even if the portion sizes must now be smaller than he’d like.
Ashton told the Williston Herald that he feels lucky.
“Some people don’t get their kidneys,” he said.
Ashton’s kidneys began to fail six years ago, but the last year was becoming a battle for his life. He had to have nightly dialysis, and needed a one-in-a million match to save his life.
That came from Jan Germundson, originally of Williston, but now a Fargo nurse.
Germundson keeps in touch with her hometown by following the Williston Herald’s Facebook page and learned of Ashton’s plight from a 2018 article that was linked there.
Two things about the young man stood out to her right off the bat. First, he was the same age as her daughter, Ella.
“I knew if any of my kids needed dialysis, I would want someone to come forward, if no one in my family was a match,” she said.
The second thing was Ashton’s blood type.
“I am O negative,” Germundson said, “so I knew from his blood type we would be a match. I did all the tests, and it just seemed like something God wanted me to do. I just kind of felt a connection.”
Germundson had also had a tough year personally, with the recent death of her father and her father-in-law.
“I knew that if I could somehow prevent someone else losing a loved one, if I could bring life to someone else, then that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.
Germundson talked to her family and friends before starting the ball rolling, just to make sure none of them had an objection. She also talked to a couple of friends who donated a kidney 20 or so years ago, to satisfy her concerns about the procedure’s safety.
Then, with a deep breath, she sent her blood work to the Mayo clinic.
A month went by. Then two, then three. It was so long Germundson thought perhaps she wasn’t a match at all. But then, in February, the clinic called and asked her to come in for more extensive testing.
“They did all sorts of tests,” Germundson said.
The tests are part of a robust program to ensure that the outcome is going to be good for both the recipient and the donor, explained Dr. Mikel Prieto, who was Ashton’s surgeon.
“We have to be confident that we are not going to hurt the donor,” Prieto told the Williston Herald. “We want the healthy person who doesn’t need surgery and is just doing this to help someone to have the confidence that they are going to have a safe surgery with no significant long-term side effects.”
Prieto said the Mayo clinic does about six kidney transplant surgeries each week. A large portion of them are kidneys that came living donors — roughly 80 percent, as compared to 20 percent nationwide.
The Mayo program is a model that is attracting attention, Prieto added. Last week, he picked up the head of a transplant program in New York, visiting the Mayo clinic to find out how they get so many living donors.
Prieto believes the extensive testing is a key element, but they also have a robust program that helps patients seek living donors from family, friends, or neighbors.
“We encourage everyone to get a living donor,” Prieto said. “That way you avoid the five-year waiting period with poor quality of life and you get a very healthy kidney from a healthy donor.”
Those who cannot find a living donor have waiting times that average five to six years, Prieto added, as there are not organ donations to go around for the number of people listed on the national registry.
The transplant surgery is generally easy on both the patients and the donor, Prieto added. The patient spends three to four days in the hospital and perhaps two to three weeks in Rochester for outpatient services. Germundson meanwhile, only had to stay a week, just to ensure there were no complications. After that she was clear to return to work, but needed to avoid lifting anything heavy for a while.
Melissa Lindvig, Ashton’s mother, told the Williston Herald that meeting Germundson was an emotional moment for all concerned.
“Words cannot express our gratitude to Jan,” Lindvig said. “She has given Ashton a new life, which extends to our family also. She and her family will always be in our prayers, and God bless them.”
Lindvig also thanked members of the community who have organized benefits to help the family with expenses.
The most recent of these included the recent Survivor Games at Beaver Bay Dam on Lake Sakakawea.
“We are very humbled by the outpouring of support, and very fortunate to live in a community that shows their support for a family in need,” Lindvig said.
Lindvig said she and Ashton hope that more people will consider signing up to be a donor.
It is easy to do, Prieto said, by signing the back of one’s driver license, talking to loved ones about your wishes in the event of an accident, or through the Mayo clinic program.
“If they have a friend or relative who needs a kidney, they should consider being a living donor,” Prieto said. “If they are brave enough to go through a small surgery and do this for someone else, it changes the life of someone who needs it, and can help to — you basically save a life by doing this. The outcomes of the surgery are fantastic, so it is a great thing you can do for someone.”
Art, food, music and more! The James Memorial Art Center’s Art Fest is gearing up for its 14th annual event, and this is is bigger and better than ever before.
Affectionately known as “Art in the Park,” Art Fest is a day-long art festival that features live entertainment throughout the day, activities for children, as well as art, craft and food vendors. Art Fest planner and James Memorial Vice President Deana Novak said the purpose behind Art Fest is to promote art in northwestern North Dakota as well as raise funds for the preservation of the James Memorial Library. The event is one of the James’ largest fundraisers, and Novak noted that proceeds from the event are used for restoration projects at the facility. Traditionally held at Recreation Park in Williston, this year’s event will take place at Harmon Park, giving Art Fest a larger venue than in years past.
“Recreation Park has been Art Fest’s home for many years,” Novak told the Williston Herald. “But with construction happening all around the park, we knew we needed to find another park. We were lucky enough to be able to use Harmon Park, and that gives us the opportunity to have more artists and vendors for people to come out and see.”
Happening on Saturday, Sept. 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Art Fest will fill the park with artists and vendors of every kind, from woodworkers and painters, to photographers and crafters. This year’s theme is “Peace,” which Novak said was chosen as Sept. 21 is International Peace Day. That theme is carried over into Art Fest’s live auction, one of the most popular parts of the event. Artists from Williston and surrounding areas are asked to create pieces for the auction, integrating the theme into their works.
Artists are given free rein with their creations, allowing them to use whatever medium they prefer to interpret the theme of Peace. The pieces will be auctioned off beginning at 1 p.m., offering attendees the chance to take home some unique original artwork from a local artist.
“The artistic talent that we have in our area is remarkable,” Novak said. “I really believe Williston has some of the best artists around, and Art Fest is one of the ways we can showcase their talent. People can come out and see what our local artists have been creating, and bid on some really great one-of-a-kind pieces.”
Novak added that those looking to bid in the auction should come to the park early and pick up their auction numbers in case they run out. There will be artist demonstrations and activities for children throughout the day, with live entertainment from local musicians and entertainers.
Art Fest is free and open to the public. For more information or to donate artwork for the live auction, contact the James Memorial art Center at 701-774-3601 or visit their website at www.thejamesmemorial.org/artfest.
All junior high school volleyball players involved in a bus crash Saturday, Sept. 6, in rural Williams County, returned to school Monday, according to superintendents.
The bus carried the Mon-Dak Thunder Volleyball team, which includes students from Grenora, and Westby, Mont., public schools. The team was traveling to a match in Lambert, Mont., when the bus with 23 people on board crashed shortly after 9 a.m. between Grenora and Williston, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
The bus drifted into the left ditch and overturned on the roadway, the Highway Patrol said. The driver and an adult suffered minor injuries, with the adult transferred to a Minot hospital. Eight other people were taken to a Williston hospital.
All of the people transported to the Williston hospital have been released, Grenora Superintendent Aaron Rudningen said Monday.
The adult transferred to the Minot hospital remained there Monday but was in stable condition, he said.
The bus driver was identified by the Highway Patrol as Amanda Myers, 53, Grenora. The patrol did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether any citations or charges were being considered in the crash.
Deductions to royalties for post production costs are not consistent even when the barrels are headed to the same plant, according to research done by Bob Skarphol, a former legislator who has been raising questions about post-production royalty deductions.
Skarphol plans to present some of the information he has been compiling on royalty deductions he said are unfair during two upcoming meetings, one in Tioga and another in Williston.
The first meeting is 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13 in the Tioga City Commission meeting room. The second is 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Williams County Commission meeting room in Williston.
Skarphol told the Williston Herald that he will have a Power Point presentation of data he has compiled about post-production costs that has resulted in garnishing royalties to cover costs of making natural gas marketable. The deductions are deemed inappropriate by many royalty owners.
“For me, this is to give people information that I have researched and am able to substantiate,” Skarphol said.
The data shows post production deductions for Beaver Lodge royalty owners of 41 percent on their checks, while royalty owners in White Earth are losing 31 percent.
Yet the production from the two locations is all going to the same plant, Skarphol said, and the White Earth production is the nearer location.
“The further away, the smaller the deduction is,” Skarphol said. “To my mind, that is totally illogical. So we need to have a conversation about the issues relative to this.”
Skarphol also believes there may be ongoing deductions that are less obvious, and that is something he is researching as well.
“As royalty owners, we’re not given access to the information we should have to determine if these types of actions are ongoing,” he said. “What needs to happen is the legislature needs to get involved and play a much more active role in what is and is not appropriate.”
Convincing the legislature to get involved, however, will require a large contingent of people who are interested in the matter, Skarphol said. That is one reason he has begun the Williston Basin Royalty Owners Association, to try and bring those who have questions and concerns about the issue together.
“If you are frustrated, come tell us why,” Skarphol said. “Maybe we can help you find a way to explain it better, and that is what we are all about. We are not giving legal advice, that is not our forte. We are about trying to get people educated. so we can educate the legislature.”
WATFORD CITY — Chief Shawn Doble of the Watford City Police Department is asking for the public’s help to identify the culprit in a hit-and-run involving a child.
On Sunday, Sept. 8, at approximately 7:20 p.m., police received a report of a hit-and-run. Officers met with an 8-year-old boy and his mother. They told law enforcement the child had been riding his bike when an older, white Ford Ranger that was traveling west struck the child. Witnesses told officers that the driver looked back and saw that the child had been hit before continuing on.
While the condition of the injured child is unknown, McKenzie County Ambulance Services evaluated the boy at the scene and took him to the hospital for his injuries.
“We know someone out there has information on this, and we ask them to come forward,” Sgt. Jeffrey Jensen, school resource officer, said.
If you have any information on this crash, please contact police by calling 701-444-2400 or by using the city’s tip line by texting “WCPD” to “Tip411.” The police force reminds those with information that they may remain anonymous.