Beloved Restaurant Owner Seeks Kidney Donor


A man and his family, who have given so much joy to their Vermont town, are now asking their community for help.

Jamie Bissonette started the Dutch Mill Family Restaurant in 1995 in Shelburne.  The building has been in his family since 1968.  

Also as the Head Chef, Bissonette had to put his passion on hold, after he was diagnosed with kidney failure on July 20, 2015.

“It’s my passion of cooking, that’s the thing I miss the most with all this,” says Bissonette.

His home dialysis machine, which he started in January, now keeps him going.  He has five five-hour treatments per week.

“I’ve been sick for twelve years and I was declining on what my capabilities were,” says Bissonette.  “I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I had no energy and I couldn’t think.”

Bissonette needs a kidney transplant.  He now waits for a phone call from UVM Medical Center’s Kidney Donor Center, telling him they have found his donor.

“The time frame, unless I get a donor, which hopefully I will, it’s a three and a half to four year wait period,” says Bissonette.  “If it wasn’t for my son, Michael, we wouldn’t be sitting here, the restaurant would’ve folded.”

Michael Bissonette, one of Jamie’s two sons now manages the Dutch Mill.  He is one of several family members who posted letters around the restaurant asking people to see if they are Jamie’s match.  The other was Jamie’s mother, and his partner Marilou.  She received a kidney transplant 24 years ago from a relative.

“Every night, I go to bed and think about the next day and try to keep going,” says Michael.  “We could all sit around and feel sorry for ourselves, but that’s not going to help my dad at all.”

Michael says despite the long journey his dad is on, he is still the same man he knew as a child.

“My dad is my best friend,” says Michael.  “He’s the most warm, caring, kind, giving person, and he’s a fighter.”

Jamie’s family hopes his story inspires others to seek treatment.

“Home dialysis isn’t for everyone, but it’s worked for me,” says Jamie.  “I feel so good.”

Jamie says there have been numerous calls from people nationwide, as a result of his family’s letter.  

Those who want to begin the screening process to get tested can contact UVM Medical Center’s Kidney Donation Program at 877-467-5102.  For more information on what it takes to be a donor, click this link.

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