Entries in Kidney Transplant (17)


Patient Seeking New Kidney Gets One as a Surprise Gift

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) -- A chance meeting with an old friend in a hallway at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage turned into a life changing encounter for retired medical officer Terri Teas.

Almost a year after her conversation with former co-worker Judie Wolfe, Teas learned that Wolfe had volunteered to donate a kidney to Teas.

For the past 10 years Teas' kidney had been failing because of a congenital condition. "My kidneys were malfunctioning. ... I became weaker and had to retire as a medical nurse very early," Teas told ABC News.

Teas' doctors told her she needed a new kidney. "Dialysis made me feel somewhat better, but it is not a cure," said Teas.

Teas, who is in her early 60s, and Wolfe knew each other from years before, when they worked in the office of Dr. Louann Feldmann, who practiced family medicine.

"I had offered my kidney to Teas because I felt that it is the right thing to do," Wolfe told ABC News.

The news that Wolfe was undergoing kidney-match screening to see if she could donate a kidney to Teas came as a surprise.

"We received a call one day from my husband's co-worker, who was a kidney match, saying that the medical center no longer needed her kidney because they'd already found a match. This match was Wolfe. ... I hadn't known that Wolfe had been undergoing all this screening for the past year," said Teas.

"When I heard the news, I had an emotional block, and we both thought we should wait until this happens. But I was very happy," Teas' husband, Howard Teas, a marine biologist who works for the state of Alaska, told ABC News.

Teas' only son couldn't donate his kidney, because while testing for organ compatibility, he learned he had kidney problems of his own.

Teas and Wolfe are in Seattle now preparing for Teas' upcoming transplant surgery at Swedish Medical Center Oct. 8.

Dr. Marquis Hart, the director of the Swedish Medical Center's Organ Transplant Program, will be performing the surgery on Wolfe. "The surgery is minimally invasive and will be done through a laparoscopy. ... After two days, the donor can go home, while the recipient will stay in the hospital for five to six days," Hart told ABC News.

"Even though I am a bit anxious, I am hopeful, and after I recover, I hope to spend a lot of time helping others with transplant issues," said Teas.

Wolfe, on the other hand is "more than ready," she said. "Emotionally, I am there and I want to go to surgery and get this done, and I want to go back home," she said.

Both Wolfe and Teas are eager to share their story. "There are about 113,000 people waiting for organ transplant, and there are only 8,000 donors available. I want to tell people, please don't hesitate to donate," said Teas.

"I am an organ donor upon death and I urge everyone to do it," said Wolfe.

"What we're really up against in transplantation every year is the risk of people dying while they are waiting for an organ," said Hart. "Seventeen percent of them die every year, and we need to raise awareness about organ donation. More and more, we are getting benevolent donors and a quarter of the donors are friends of friends," said Hart.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kidney for Ohio Transplant Thrown in Trash

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An Ohio nurse accidentally put a kidney in the trash, prompting the University of Toledo Medical Center to suspend its live donor program as it investigates the incident.

Doctors tried to resuscitate the kidney, which came from a live donor, but it was rendered unusable.

“We cannot fathom the disappointment that those impacted have experienced over the course of the last week. The University cannot begin to express the sorrow that we feel that this unfortunate incident occurred. We apologize sincerely,” Dr. Jeffery P. Gold, University of Toledo chancellor and dean of the College of Medicine, said in a statement.

The hospital has voluntarily suspended its live kidney donor program and has placed two nurses on paid administrative leave while it investigates the incident.

“[We are] in the process of assessing how this situation occurred and we are committed to ensuring safeguards are put in place to prevent such an incident from ever happening again,” Gold said, adding that the hospital was getting help from experts inside and outside the institution.

The University of Toledo Medical Center has performed more than 1,700 renal transplants since it began in 1972, with a 98 percent success rate, according to the hospital.

A spokesperson said the transplant program is expected to reopen in the next few weeks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hospital Suspends Organ Donor Program After Transplant Mistake

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- After the wrong patient received a kidney last week, Methodist Dallas Medical Center is now suspending its kidney and pancreas donation program.

Though the kidney was compatible with the patient, the fact that it went to the wrong person on the organ donation list, is an indication that something went wrong.  

"Obviously, the process was not followed correctly and that's what we want to make sure doesn't happen again," Kathleen Beathard, a Methodist Dallas spokeswoman said, according to ABC News television affiliate WFAA in Dallas.

The person responsible for the oversight has been terminated, and the patients awaiting transplants have been made aware of the program's suspension.
Beathard noted that if patients become eligible for transplants now, the surgeries can be done at other hospitals, according to WFAA. Until then, Methodist Dallas has instituted a corrective action plan to ensure the incident doesn't happen again.

The kidney transplant program at Methodist Dallas hopefully will resume soon, Beathard said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man with Kidney Disease Finds Perfect Match in New Bride

Jonathan Woodlief(DALLAS) -- Caitlin knew she was in love, but giving her heart to Jonathan was not an easy choice. Because Jonathan needed more than a heart; he needed a kidney, and his prospects of finding one were close to zero.

He faced a bleak future. But in the end, Caitlin turned out to be the perfect match not only for his heart but also for his health. And today they are heading into a future far brighter than the one they imagined on their wedding day last October.

Jonathan and Caitlin Woodlief met three years ago at seminary school in Dallas. Soon after they began dating, his health began to deteriorate.

"Dating was really difficult," Caitlin says. "You're trying to figure out how much to put your heart on the line, like any dating situation. But now I have to decide whether or not to go with him to chemo treatments. It's scary and intimidating dealing with a big disease."

The disease was lupus, and it was the second time around for Jonathan, which made the stakes much higher.

When he was 18, Jonathan had his first kidney transplant. The donor was his mother. It is very rare for lupus to return in the donated kidney, but just as Jonathan and Caitlin were falling in love, that's what happened.

It is far more difficult to find a matching donor for a patient who has already had one transplant because the body has built up new antibodies.

Fewer than one in 100 people could provide Jonathan a kidney his body would accept. Doctors told him he would probably spend the next 15 years or more on dialysis, waiting for a match, his health deteriorating all the time.

"It was a rough year for us," Jonathan says, "and a tough decision."

Jonathan went from "super healthy" to increasingly being in the hospital, sometimes for long stretches. He was in the hospital when he first met Caitlin's parents.

"That was humbling," he says, "me wanting to be a man who could provide and love her, and being insecure about my health."

"There were days that really take your breath away," Caitlin says, "when you think about the weight of the situation ... just how sick he was."

"One thing helped," Caitlin says, as she wrestled with whether or not to tie her life to a very sick man. "He would have done the same for me."

A month after the wedding, Jonathan went on the transplant list, which meant the search for a donor could begin.

Caitlin went with some of their friends to be tested. One by one they called to report they were not a match.

Then, at the end of January, the news no one expected: Caitlin herself was a match.

"It's like hitting the lottery," said transplant surgeon Dr. David Cronin. "Practically speaking," he said, patients like Jonathan have almost no chance of finding a matching donor.

After more testing, and still more testing to be sure, the newlyweds went into surgery on Tuesday at the transplant center at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

In the prep room together, Jonathan, the old hand in hospitals, reassured his wife, who had never been under anesthetic.

"I was pretty nervous," she admits.

Caitlin went into the operating room first, and an hour later they called for Jonathan.

Caitlin is back at home already. Jonathan joins her there today and they can begin planning for the healthy future they didn't think they would get.

"Swimming and jumping and running and playing basketball," is first on the list, Caitlin says. Jonathan is a big basketball player.

"Further down the road, we'd love to start a family," Caitlin says. "That was on the back burner until all this came together."

But Jonathan and Caitlin, now graduates of that Christian seminary school, are not just thinking of themselves.

"A lot of our story has been shaped by suffering," Jonathan says, "so we want to work with other people who are suffering."

Jonathan is thinking of ministry, maybe overseas. He spent a year studying in China and his good health makes a return there possible. Caitlin trained as a music therapist and wants to incorporate that into her career.

"We've had a big detour here," Jonathan says. Now, thanks to his perfect match, they are back on track.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Woman Dies While Donating Kidney to Relative

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Montefiore Hospital in New York voluntarily suspended its live donor organ transplant program after a woman who was trying to donate a kidney to a relative died during an operation, according to a hospital source.

The voluntary move by the hospital has drawn attention to the possible dangers of living organ donation, and some experts say the case may dissuade some who are contemplating becoming a live donor to follow through.

The incident, which is now under investigation by the state health department, is the first live donor operation death to occur at the hospital, according to hospital sources.

"The patient experienced a rare complication of this surgery," according to a spokeswoman for the hospital, who would not confirm details of the case.  "The doctors recognized the problem and took extensive steps to save the patient's life."

More than 900 people nationwide have participated as living donors since January 2012, according to data by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.  Kidney and liver are among the most common organs donated by a living person.

"[Live organ donation] is incredibly important because there are not enough cadaver organs to go around," said Dr. Jonathon Bromberg, chief of the division of transplantation at the University of Maryland.  "Live organ donations allow us to save more lives."

Bromberg said however rare a fatal complication may be, the number of willing donors plummet when people hear about cases where a transplant goes wrong.

"We often do see a decrease in people willing to be a living or deceased donor," he said.  "We do have very direct conversations with those who are considering being a donor about the risks."

Live organ donations are among the most highly regulated procedures, not just by the hospitals but federal agencies including the Health Resources and Services Administration, according to Dr. Alan Koffron, chairman of surgery and director of the transplant program at William Beaumont hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

"It's so well controlled and so well regulated that it's typical that when something goes wrong the center shuts down to find what's wrong," said Koffron.  "We're trying to be good stewards of this procedure."  

Organs from live donors are more likely to function sooner in the recipient's body and be of better quality than an organ from a deceased donor since the live donor organ has only been out of the body for a short time.  Living donor and recipient surgeries are typically done on the same day to help preserve the organ.

Evidence also suggests that recipients of live donor organs live longer and have a better quality of life.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


UCSD Sued for Transplanting Cancerous Kidney

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- A California man is suing the University of California-San Diego Medical Center after receiving a cancerous kidney during a transplant operation.  Despite signing a document electing not to accept a kidney from a donor with health problems, Austin Scalf claims UCSD surgeon, Dr. Christopher Barry knowingly gave him a kidney with a cyst.

Watch the full report here:

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Wrote Letters to Kidney, Donated It to Stranger Technologies(NEW YORK) -- In August, Eric Parrie donated his kidney to a woman he'd never met. But before he parted ways with his organ, he had some things he needed to say to it first.

So the 26-year-old Yale law student wrote about a dozen letters to his kidney, an organ he said he'd always taken for granted. He even settled on a name for the kidney: Dick Posner.

"Dear Dick Posner, first off, I want to say thanks. From what I can tell, you've done a pretty good job these last 25 years," Parrie wrote in his first letter on Feb. 1, 2011.

Why "Dick Posner?" The name actually belongs to a real person, a judge in the 7th circuit Court of Appeals who has written about the legal aspects of organ donation. Parrie said thinking about giving his kidney away made him see it more like a person.

"It just made me think more about my kidney, which is a body part I've never really thought about before," Parrie said. "And it was a way of not taking myself too seriously through the whole process."

Even if Parrie didn't want to take his decision too seriously, for Laura Cheaney, of Sulphur, La., it was a lifesaver.

The 30-year-old mother's kidneys had failed her after she gave birth to her son in 2007. She had been on dialysis for almost two years when Parrie decided to donate his organ.

"You can't really give a better gift to someone, especially someone you don't know," Cheaney said. "It really saves their life."

Living organ donation is somewhat rare. About 6,000 people volunteer to donate one of their kidneys every year, according to the National Kidney Registry.

Meanwhile, more than 92,000 people are currently awaiting kidney transplants in the U.S., according to the National Kidney Foundation. Most people who donate give their kidneys to family members or friends. The National Kidney Foundation counted about 165 anonymous donations in 2011, compared with 1,100 kidneys donated to siblings and nearly 900 donated by children to their parents.

The need for kidneys is so great that last year nearly 5,000 people died while waiting for a transplant.

Typically, hospitals take great pains to ensure that anonymous donations stay anonymous. But both Parrie and Cheaney decided they wanted to meet and Guillera put them in touch. On Jan. 2, 2012, Parrie, back in New Orleans on break, rode his bike to Ochsner, just as he had on the day of the August surgery. Cheaney, her husband Matt and son Devon made the three-hour drive from Sulphur to the New Orleans hospital.

"I was thinking, 'Man what am I going to say to this guy?' I just wanted to let him know how much he's done for us, me and my family," she said. "He's just a magnificent person."

Parrie said the choice to be a living donor may not be right for everyone, but he hopes more people will consider it as a safe and realistic option. He wants others to know it doesn't take a saint to donate.

"It takes diligence and courage, but doesn't take a superhero," he said. "You can be someone who believes in loving your neighbor as yourself and this is a way to make it happen."

What did the real Dick Posner have to say about all this? Parrie wrote an email to him, telling him about his kidney donation and the letters he had written.

"I got an email back from his assistant. She said, 'Judge Posner was pleased to hear that since up to now the only thing named after him was a house cat,'" Parrie said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Procedure Using Stem Cells Eliminates Need for Anti-Rejection Drugs in Transplants

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Lindsay Porter knew she would eventually need a kidney transplant. She was 19 years old when her mother died from polycystic kidney disease -- a genetic condition that Porter had 50/50 odds of inheriting, and did.

"It didn't really affect me much until my early 30s," said Porter, an actress and mother living in Chicago. "And as I got into my 40s, my kidneys started getting very big with multiple cysts. They were huge."

In May 2010, doctors removed Porter's overgrown and failing kidneys. Two months later, a friend gave her one of his. But it was no ordinary transplant. Along with the fist-size organ, doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago transplanted bone marrow stem cells -- an experimental procedure they hoped would eliminate the need for anti-rejection drugs.

"These drugs are currently an absolute necessity, but they have a downside," said Dr. Joseph Leventhal, Porter's transplant surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Anti-rejection drugs suppress the immune system, preventing it from attacking the donated organ like an infection. But suppressing the immune system makes the body vulnerable to infections and even cancer. And the drugs, which carry toxic side effects, can't ward off rejection forever. "Many individuals will still lose their transplants over time due to chronic rejection," said Leventhal.

To coax Porter's body into recognizing the new kidney as her own, Leventhal and colleagues wiped out part of her immune system and replaced it with the donor's. It took four days of chemotherapy, whole-body irradiation and a bone marrow transplant -- no walk in the park, according to Porter. But over time, the donor bone marrow stem cells gave rise to immune cells that accepted the kidney as if it was Porter's own -- a process called induced immune tolerance.

"At first I was taking 24 pills a day," said Porter, describing the "cocktail" of anti-rejection drugs needed to fend off an attack on her new kidney while the bone marrow stem cells were setting up shop. "And you really can't miss a dose. I had to set my cell phone alarm for every 12 hours every single day to remind me."

After six months, Porter started weaning herself off the drugs. And after a year, she no longer needed them at all.

"My life is totally transformed," she said. "It's like I never even had kidney disease, never even had the transplant. It's so easy to feel normal and forget it even happened."

Porter is one of eight patients who participated in the kidney transplant trial run jointly by Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the University of Louisville. Five of the patients, including Porter, now have chimeric immune systems consisting of their own immune cells and immune cells from their donor. They no longer need any anti-rejection drugs. Two patients had "transient chimerism," meaning it didn't last, but take half the anti-rejection drugs they would have needed without the stem cell transplant. One patient had complications from the transplant.

The results of the trial, which is ongoing, were published on Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine journal.

Dr. Suzanne Ildstad, director of the Institute of Cellular Therapeutics at the University of Louisville, pioneered the approach and led the trial with Leventhal.

"It really makes all work we've done really worthwhile," she said. "Being a transplant recipient isn't easy. They have to take up to 25 pills a day, keep track of them, suffer the consequences of them. There's really been no other way. ... These results are really gratifying."

Eliminating the need for anti-rejection drugs would mean healthier transplant recipients and longer-lasting organs.

"We would love for the first transplant a person gets to be the only transplant they need," said Leventhal, adding that many transplant recipients need a second transplant in their lifetime because of chronic rejection. "We hope that tolerance will be a pathway toward keeping that transplant for as long as they live."

This year, Leventhal and Ildstad will test the approach in patients who have already received a kidney transplant from a living donor. They hope transplanting bone marrow stem cells from the same donor even years after the organ transplant will reduce the need for anti-rejection drugs. They also plan to broaden the study to include other types of transplants.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kidney Transplant Chain Sets Record

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There are 90,000 people in the United States waiting for a kidney, and all it takes is one stranger to begin a chain of events that has the potential to save an ever-growing number of lives.

Rick Ruzzamenti was the first link in the longest such chain so far -- known in this case as chain No. 124, as The New York Times first reported: a stranger who began a domino effect of generosity spanning across the country.

Ruzzamenti gave his kidney to someone for whom a family member  couldn't provide a match. But a family member who was not a match in this circumstance was a match for Brooke Kitzman from Michigan.  And so it went, on and on, as strangers bound together through common circumstances gave and received kidneys as part of a chain started by a man who had no specific attachment to the cause.

There was the ex-boyfriend who saved his ex-girlfriend and the old prom dates from Queens, N.Y. -- Gregory Person donated his kidney so Zenovia Duke could get a kidney from Samantha Hendon in Porterville, Calif.

The mastermind behind it all is Garet Hil, a former U.S. Marine with an MBA and his own company, who every day before dawn orchestrates the blood types, the profiles and the logistics of the most three dimensional kidney chain ever tried.

Hil says a singular event inspired him to start a kidney registry: When his then 10-year-old daughter needed a kidney they went through 15 different possible matches until she finally got what she needed.

"We went into all the exchange systems in the United States and never got a match," Hil told ABC News. "When I saw these systems, I thought there needed to be a better way... and that's what drove us to create the National Kidney Registry."

Over the last four months, 17 hospitals and 11 states, Hil's mastery of the system has helped save one life after another until finally the chain ended, setting a record with the 30th transplant, Donald Terry, a 47-year-old government worker.

"I felt myself dying on dialysis when the doctors called me [to say] he had a kidney -- he was going to have a donated kidney," Terry said. "I actually burst down in tears, I didn't know what to say -- I didn't see myself living five more years."

Terry had no idea that the two people watching over him were a former Marine and a stranger who on an impulse decided to become a donor.

"The only thing I can say is we have two kidneys and if you believe in God, you could say well maybe God gave us an extra kidney so that we could give it away," Ruzzamenti said.  "Just for a few, a month or two moments of some pain, you can really relieve the suffering of another individual. ... The amount of suffering and pain and discomfort or whatever that I went through is just absolutely nothing for the amount of good that came with it.  You know, if I had another kidney, I would donate that one too, no problem."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mentally Disabled Girl May Get Kidney Transplant After All

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Chrissy Rivera, the mother of the 3-year-old girl who was initially told by a doctor at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia that he would not recommend a kidney transplant for her mentally disabled daughter, is "hopeful" the hospital will help after an outcry of indignation online.

More than 37,000 online supporters petitioned after Rivera had blogged about a doctor who called her daughter "mentally retarded" and said he would not recommend transplantation.

Rivera met with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia doctors Friday to see if Amelia "Mia" Rivera, who has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, would be eligible for a kidney. It is up to a larger transplantation committee to decide if the girl qualifies.

"They are moving us through the steps," said Rivera, a 35-year-old New Jersey high school teacher who has two other children, ages 11 and 6. "It is not a 'yes' or a 'no' at this point. But, yes, I am hopeful."

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia had no immediate comment on these developments.

Mia's complex genetic disorder results in severe mental and physical impairments, and specialists have said that without a transplant, Mia would die within six months to a year.

"We had a positive meeting with the nephrologist and the head of nephrology and nursing," said Rivera. "They took us through the steps and told us the risks. No decision has been made, but it's a process...that anybody has to go through."

"I didn't see any red flags at the meeting," she said. The Riveras will meet again with doctors from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in March to review the girl's case.

In the meantime, Mia is "doing very well," said her mother. "She is very healthy."

The little girl's plight received national media attention when supporters petitioned the hospital through, which successfully battled Bank of America over its $5 debit card fee and Verizon over its online payment fee.

"The fact that CHOP [Children's Hospital of Philadelphia] is reconsidering Amelia's surgery is a remarkable testament to the potential of online campaigns to literally change people's lives," said Benjamin Joffe-Walt, spokesman for

"It's positive and awesome," said Rivera. "We definitely appreciate everything."

Rivera blogged about what she said was her daughter's transplant "rejection" two weeks ago.

The Riveras said a doctor at Children's Hospital had initially advised against a kidney transplant "because she was mentally retarded."

Rivera said the doctor also mentioned the medication that Mia would have to take for the rest of her life -- and "how important it was she take it -- and who would make her take it when we weren't around anymore?"

"Everyone should be treated equally," she said at the time. "This is outrageous."

When the media first reported the story two weeks ago, the hospital would not respond to questions about the Rivera case, citing privacy laws, but it provided a prepared statement, which read: "The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia does not disqualify potential transplant candidates on the basis of intellectual abilities. We have transplanted many children with a wide range of disabilities, including physical and intellectual disabilities. We at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia are deeply committed to providing the best possible medical care to all children, including those with any form of disability."

Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, caused by a missing part of the short arm of chromosome 4, occurs in about one in 50,000 live births. Disabilities can vary from child to child but can include seizures, hearing loss and eye malformations, as well as kidney, brain and skeletal abnormalities. Heart disease and frequent lung infections and immune deficiencies have also been reported.

Patients can be denied an organ transplant for a variety of reasons, according to the American Society of Transplant Physicians. Transplantation will not be offered to those would could be harmed by the surgery itself or by the immune-suppression that is required to prevent organ rejection.

Patients with weak immune systems or a high risk of infection, such as some children with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, cannot be immunosuppressed, according to those guidelines.

Some doctors have reported that patients with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome have difficulty with anesthetics, because their heads and mouths tend to be small, making it hard to place a breathing tube during surgery.

Patients with severe heart disease may have an unacceptably high risk during surgery. Also, those who are not expected to live five years may also be denied a kidney transplant.

Patients with severe intellectual disabilities may be considered for transplant if the benefits outweigh the potential harm, say the guidelines.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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