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Stories of hope

Rejected as a donor, but not deterred!

Dennis Terry

My son was born with an undetected cardiac arrhythmia, and at only 12 days old, he was life-flighted to the Houston Medical Center due to dehydration and organ failure. After he had spent some time in pediatric ICU, the medical team was able to control his heart condition and his body mostly recovered….except his kidneys, which had become scarred. We were told they would not continue to grow with him. The nephrologists estimated that he would need a transplant to supplement his infant-sized kidneys by the time he became an adult.

That time came at 18 years old when he went away to college and put on the “freshman 10” (pounds) from the college dining hall. He came home, and we began our donor search. My wife was not a blood type match, but I was. Further antigen testing indicated I was a perfect tissue match with a very low probability of rejection. My kidney was so closely matched that the doctors felt my son would most likely not need to be put on steroids and only minimal doses of anti-rejection medications during his life.

However, the hospital’s medical review board surgeon rejected my candidacy as a donor because I had 5 prior kidney stone episodes as well as adhesions in my belly from a previous surgerie. I was devastated that my son would not get the perfect kidney.

My son had to begin dialysis three times a week, and his care was transferred out of the pediatric hospital since he was now an adult. I had by now researched and read all I could about my conditions that excluded my candidacy as a donor, and I convinced the new doctors to review my history and donor tissue typing. After several tests, it was determined that I developed stones only in my right kidney due to a portion of my small colon being removed in a previous surgery. The transplant team believed they could take my right kidney and implant that one in my son and he wouldn’t have issues with stones. It’s believed that I am the very first living donor to have five previous stone episodes and still give the organ. Our transplant date was May 2014, and both my son and I are very healthy.

Over the years, I was a top graduate of my university, a leader in my business profession, and part of a professional sports team that won a World Championship, But like many others here have also shared, I consider my living organ donation as the single most important and treasured accomplishment of my lifetime.

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Kidney, Living donor, Stories

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