Jul 19, 2019
Paul Loeffler and R. Michael Alexander. (Paul Loeffler's Facebook page)

Fresno State sports announcer donates kidney

Paul Loeffler is known as the voice of Bulldog sports, but most recently has become a voice for giving back to others. He recently donated a kidney to his friend R. Michael Alexander.

Loeffler returned home from UC San Francisco Medical Center on Jan. 28, where he and Alexander had undergone surgery.

“Thanks to God’s perfect plan, the support of my family, friends and my gracious employers, and the skilled and caring staff at UCSF, I was privileged to share one of my kidneys with [Alexander], a great man whose amazing family has persevered through numerous challenges and hiccups with unswerving faith,” Loeffler said in a statement posted to his Facebook page.

Alexander is a husband, father and Loeffler’s friend. He served as president and CEO at the United Way of Fresno County before retiring in 2015. He also worked with Kaiser Permanente Health Plan and Hospital.

Loeffler asked his Facebook followers for patience and prayer as Alexander and his family “decompress.”

“There’s a great story to tell, but it’s not my story to tell. [Alexander] and his family have been living this story daily, and the least we can do is wait until the time is right for them to share it,” Loeffler said on Jan. 30.

Though details of Alexander’s need for surgery were not immediately disclosed, Loeffler shared a story from his own father’s need of an organ.

“I remember when the call came to our house 28 years ago, the good news [was] that after more than three years on dialysis, my dad would receive the gift of life from a deceased kidney donor. That gave him eight more years of life, eight years that in so many ways shaped the way I see the world and the way I try to live,” Loeffler said.

Loeffler has said that his father led him to become a sports announcer. He recalled watching a 49ers game one day with his father at their home in Los Banos when Loeffler noticed the announcer said something wrong.

“That guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Loeffler said to his father. His father laughed at him and said, “Well, if you think you can do better, maybe you should be a sports announcer.”

The rest is history.

Since October 2001, Loeffler has been “the voice of the Bulldogs.” After his organ donation, it became clear to him that he had a greater purpose.

“Think about it. Do you have an organ sticker on your driver’s license? Why not? You can’t take [them] with you, and that little sticker could end up saving multiple lives,” Loeffler said. “In California, the average wait for a deceased donor kidney is eight to 10 years, and about 80 percent of those on a waiting list die before they get one. If everybody reading this right now signed up here, we could change that awful statistic in a major way.”

Loeffler had updated his Facebook followers about Alexander’s condition on Feb.1. He was said to be back in the hospital at UCSF for “some unexpected developments.” He again asked for prayers.

Alexander’s wife, Patty, commented on Loeffler’s post, “Thankful things are looking up. My husband had a few stumbles after surgery but all turned out well.”

Alexander went home on Feb.5. As for Loeffler, he was back on the radio to call the Fresno State men’s basketball game against San Diego State on Feb. 7.

The Red Wave welcomed Loeffler back with a standing ovation.

“Thanks to all who had a role in such a touching surprise. I know that ovation was also for Mike Alexander, [his] family, for my late father and for a gracious God who directs our steps,” Loeffler tweeted.

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