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Badger coach Biller back home after successful kidney transplant



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Jackie and Glenn Biller underwent successful kidney transplant surgery Feb. 7. Biller said it's amazing to finally have a fully-functioning kidney. Mike Ramczyk.

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Jackie and Glenn hold hands last Thursday after the procedure. (click for larger version)
February 12, 2013 | 04:27 PM
GREENFIELD — On Saturday, the Badger swim team battled at the Greenfield Sectional, located on S. 60th St.

A mere 10 minutes away, at St. Luke's Medical Center, Badger swim coach Glenn Biller was in the fight of his life in a hospital bed.

Just two days removed from successful kidney transplant surgery, Biller wasn't able to lead his team at sectionals. Under the direction of coach Sarah Eiserman, the Badgers swam to a fifth-place finish out of 11 teams and sent one athlete, Remy Glogovsky, to state.

Biller was on people's minds at the meet, as the Badger faithful held up posts with a blown-up picture of Biller's face.

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His wife Jackie, who donated her kidney to help save her husband's life, was a little sick from the anesthesia after surgery, but she came home Sunday. Biller suffers from a genetic kidney disease, and by the beginning of last year, his kidney levels fell to life-threatening lows. His mother passed away from the disease, and all his life Biller knew Feb. 7 was coming.

Two months ago, after searching for a match, Jackie was eventually cleared for the procedure.

Now, the road to recovery begins. Biller is enjoying a fully functioning kidney, but he is taking anti-rejection drugs and must get back to St. Luke's two times a week.

"It's incredible," Biller said Tuesday. "I have a great kidney. I'm pretty sore, but I feel good."

Biller said it's unbelievable to finally have normal kidney function after his kidneys were fatally weak for the past year.

A Lake Geneva resident who has worked at the local YMCA and the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, Biller has built plenty of friendships in the community. He found out firsthand in the past couple months.

With a couple local fundraisers including one at Pier 290 in Williams Bay that drew 400 people, friends and even strangers showed their support with donations and the company of a smiling, supportive face.

"I want to give a big 'Thank you' to the Lake Geneva community," Biller said. "We're doing great. I can't thank the community enough. I've been here since 1992, and I've connected with a lot of people. It's great knowing people will be there for you."

For the next two months, Biller said several friends will deliver meals to the Biller home. Jamie Kluge, Badger Athletic Director Jim Kluge's wife, started a fundraiser with help from Margaret Ring, Dawn Jacobs, Jennifer Veith and Nadine Seitz, in an attempt to make Biller's transition home go smoothly.

"I've heard from everybody I've ever known," Biller said. "I've gotten cards and calls and heard stories of others' family members who got kidney transplants. It's been amazing."

Biller said it will take at least six months to get back to normal, and he is "not out of the water" yet. He can't lift anything over 10 pounds, and his personal training business is on hold. His current medication works to deplete his immune system so his body doesn't reject the new kidney, Biller said. He assured it won't be an easy road.

"I will be on a series of medications," Biller said. "I will always be on something. It will depend on how I feel in terms of getting back to work."

On Feb. 5, Biller bid farewell to his team at the annual awards banquet. He thanked everyone and said goodbye to the seniors.

"It was a nice night," he said. "The swimmers did great at sectionals and really rallied."

Sectional success

On Saturday, Badger took fifth place with 221 points. Greenfield-Greendale won the event with 336.5 points.

Glogovsky, a senior who is fully healthy after having shoulder surgery in the offseason, had a big day.

He placed third in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:03.06, good enough to qualify for this weekend's state meet. Also, there were 15 swimmers with personal bests.

"We kept our state run going," Biller said.

Glogovsky also nabbed third in the 200 freestyle, finishing in 1:54.02. The 200 medley relay of Glogovsky, Zach Zenner, Tyler Lininger and Andrew Shane were fourth with a time of 1:47.27. The same foursome placed fourth in the 200 freestyle relay with a 1:34.16. Shane was fourth in the 100 freestyle with a time of 51.39.

The team finished the season second in the Southern Lakes Conference.

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