Police chief hopes to return to job early this year after kidney transplant

Ross Twp. Police Chief Darryl Haussler has cheated death on a number of occasions, but he will get a whole lease on life in a couple weeks when a church friend donates her kidney. Haussler, 53, suffers from a rare, painful and incurable disease called scleroderma. Maria Wessel — who works with Haussler’s wife Debbie at U.S. Bank and goes to their church in Cleves —unbeknownst to the Hausslers had herself tested to be a kidney donor earlier this year and is a perfect match. Haussler has been going to dialysis three times a week for several years. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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Ross Twp. Police Chief Darryl Haussler has cheated death on a number of occasions, but he will get a whole lease on life in a couple weeks when a church friend donates her kidney. Haussler, 53, suffers from a rare, painful and incurable disease called scleroderma. Maria Wessel — who works with Haussler’s wife Debbie at U.S. Bank and goes to their church in Cleves —unbeknownst to the Hausslers had herself tested to be a kidney donor earlier this year and is a perfect match. Haussler has been going to dialysis three times a week for several years. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Ross Twp. police chief Darryl Haussler is expecting to return part-time to his position early this year after undergoing a kidney transplant in October.

The Journal-News and news partner WCPO-TV have followed Haussler’s story through the two years of his struggle with scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that targets connective tissues.

In Haussler’s case, the disease enacted a high toll on his kidneys. He’s been on dialysis and doctors informed him he would require a transplant.

MORE ON HAUSSLER: Ross Twp. police chief cheats death — twice

That’s where family friend of 15 years, Maria Wessel, came in.

“She’s just amazing, absolutely amazing,” Haussler told WCPO-TV. “She doesn’t like it when we talk about her like that, but she is. She’s just our angel.”

Wessel said she made the decision to be tested for compatibility, and she didn’t hesitate to offer her kidney to her longtime friend.

The day of the transplant finally came in mid-October, among chilly temperatures and changing leaves. Wessel went into the operating room first, but her part of the process didn’t take long.

Haussler, on the other hand, was in surgery for about four hours.

The experience bonded the two and their families beyond the 15 years of friendship they shared.

“Our whole families, I think, now have a connection because it is definitely a family process,” Wessel said. “I mean, it wasn’t just Darryl and I.”

The new kidney has been working since the minute Haussler received it, and although his scleroderma is still present, he’s on the road to recovery, surrounded by people who care about him most.

“She gave me a gift that I can never repay outside of doing the very best I can to take care of this kidney,” Haussler said. “That’s probably the best gift I can give her in return, because ‘thank you’ is just not enough, from my perspective anyway.”

Haussler expects to return part time to his job as Ross Township police chief in the new year.

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