Kevin (2003) and Kelly (2004) graduated from Center Point High School, and both went on to graduate from The University of Texas. On the day of the surgeries, we learned that a friend of ours, while in the waiting room at Peterson Regional Medical Center, Kerrville, TX, overheard some people talking about someone’s sister donating a kidney so her brother could receive one through paired donation. Our friend told them that she knew that brother and sister, and that she had taught the sister, Kelly, in the fourth grade at Center Point ISD. Word travels fast!Kevin was born with a very rare disease called cystinosis. The amino acid cystine in his body does not break down as it does for most of us. The resultant damage is too soft tissue and organs. When Kevin was diagnosed with cystinosis at the age of thirteen months, we were told that someday he would need a kidney transplant. He did not need that transplant until he was twenty-three years old. Many cystinosis patients require a transplant in their teens. He received a kidney from his father which lasted a little more than two years, and then his body began rejecting it. In end-stage renal failure, Kevin awaited another transplant, but needed dialysis to remove the impurities from his body. With a strong reaction to hemodialysis at a clinic, he switched to peritoneal dialysis which he could do at home. This had to be performed daily, however, requiring that he be hooked to a machine for ten hours each day. The dialysis at home went on for nearly four years.
Paired donation is an option when a living donor is not able to donate directly to a friend/relative/co-worker. The paired donor exchange allows people to trade donors as in this case which involved six people in three different states.
This latest transplant was the sixteenth surgery for Kevin. He was very happy when he was able to return the dialysis machine that had become a part of his life. A month later, the transplanted kidney is healthy and happy. By all accounts, the recipients in CO and MN are doing well, as are the donors. A transplanted organ is never a sure thing, so please keep Kevin, Kelly, and the others in your thoughts and prayers.