(LOS ANGELES) -- Half a century after receiving a live-saving kidney transplant, Tommy Hoag was reunited with the doctor who helped him.
Hoag was the first patient to have the ground-breaking surgery at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, according to KTLA. In 1967 it was unclear how long a donated kidney could last, said Dr. Richard Fine, a pediatric nephrologist formerly at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.
"We had no idea 50 years ago that we could accomplish having someone survive with one kidney for 50 years," Fine told reporters Tuesday when he was reunited with his patient.
Hoag's kidneys were damaged following a scarlet fever infection, but he was only six years old -- too young for dialysis at the time. Fine recommended that Hoag have a kidney transplant and the boy's father decided to donate his own kidney in hopes his son could survive.
"Kind of bewildering at times to think about, but it was an awesome thing he did," Hoag said. At the time, though, he didn't fully understand what it meant to undergo brand-new surgery.
"It was an awesome thing they did for me," Hoag said. "I didn't know that when I was six and half. I just wanted to get better."
Fine later went on to study dialysis in adults, but said this early case has stuck with him.
"I think seeing Tommy here today and seeing how well he's done for such a long period of time is one of the highlights of my carer," he said.
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