Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Transplant

July 1st, 2016

Remembrance Events at Mayo Clinic Give Family Time to Reflect and Share

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Carol Mannell remembers her sister, Kathy VanHulle, as a woman who always loved meeting new people and having fun. Carol Mannell remembers her younger sister, Kathy VanHulle, as a woman who loved meeting new people and having fun. Carol recalls how, despite being in the midst of receiving care for a serious illness when she was at Mayo Clinic, Kathy would take time to strike up conversations with people sitting next to her in waiting rooms. She would ask them to write messages in a journal she carried with her. Kathy and Carol would sing together in her hospital room.

Kathy even convinced members of her care team at Mayo Clinic to get up and dance.

“We had a lot of fun. Everywhere Kathy went at Mayo, we’d talk, laugh and get people to do the happy dance with her,” Carol says. “She had a big personality.”

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Tags: Dr Mark Litzow, Hematology Oncology, Mayo Medical School, Mayo School of Health Sciences


June 28th, 2016

After a Long, Long Wait, a Transplant, Gratitude and Goodbyes

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Randy Marlow with two of his transplant nurses. When Randy Marlow checked into Mayo Clinic Hospital's Saint Marys Campus, he knew his hospital stay would be lengthy. He just wasn’t expecting it to last one year, seven months and 21 days.

As someone who needed dual heart and liver transplants, Randy knew the probability of two suitable donor organs becoming available at the same time was small. Moreover, his rare blood type, coupled with a buildup of antibodies from multiple blood transfusions related to prior heart surgeries, meant he would be incompatible with all but 10 to 20 percent of organ donors, according to his physicians.

So Randy, an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed snowmobiling back home in the Colorado Rockies, riding his ATV, and camping, shifted his perspective from action to endurance.

Patience became the operative word. "You have to take it day by day and wait for that right day, for the miracle," Randy says.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: heart transplant, liver transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center


April 10th, 2016

Heart Transplant Opens Door to Leading a Full Life

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

TaraBrigham2-805For 33-year-old Tara Brigham of Jacksonville, Florida, living with a heart condition since birth wasn't something that was going to get in the way of living an active normal life. In fact, she says the heart transplant she received six years ago as a result of her condition has made her life even more fulfilling.

A Minnesota native, Tara was diagnosed with enlargement of the heart during a routine checkup when she was 1 year old. While she had not had any symptoms of a heart problem since birth, the enlargement was significant enough that her physician at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus suggested that a biopsy of her heart should be done right away. She was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body to vital organs.

Tara's heart was monitored closely by her doctors at Mayo Clinic and later a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy specialist at the University of Minnesota. Since Tara was an active, healthy child otherwise, and what was known about her condition in children was limited, she was not put on medication, but doctors advised that she avoid strenuous activities.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Daniel Yip, Florida Campus, heart transplant, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, ventricular assist device


March 31st, 2016

Lung Cancer Patient Survives With Help of Novel Procedure, Celebrates Next Generation of Innovation

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Raegan Cury

Raegan Cury didn’t worry at first when she developed a cough in early 2002 that wouldn’t go away. She was a healthy young woman, athletic, a former gymnast, and her initial chest X-ray showed what looked like pneumonia.

Even her husband, a pulmonologist, wasn't too worried, until she received a surprising diagnosis. “I never thought it was going to be bronchoalveolar lung cancer,” says her husband, Dave Cury, M.D.

Raegan, who lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida, had surgery to remove the cancer and woke up with just one lung, due to the extent of the disease. The surgery was followed by four rounds of chemotherapy, but in 2003, tests found cancer nodules throughout her remaining lung. 

That was a dark period for Reagan and her family. She and her husband started their two young children, Chandler and Davis, in grief counseling.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Cesar Keller, Florida Campus, lung cancer, lung transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Raegan Cury


February 29th, 2016

Professional Outdoorsman Lives Life to the Fullest After Liver Transplant

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Steve and Maria Woodford are back to active lifestyles after transplant and cancer care at Mayo Clinic.Being diagnosed with bile duct cancer that eventually necessitated a liver transplant wasn't enough to keep Steve Woodford down for long. A South African native living in Utah, Steve is professional skydiving instructor, backpacker and canyon guide in Zion National Park. He has always lived on the edge with his active outdoors lifestyle. Getting sick unexpectedly during a backpacking trip to Belize two years ago seemed like just another challenge he had to overcome.

"My wife and I had just arrived in Belize to do some backpacking and visit the Mayan ruins, when I woke up itching, and noticed a yellow tint to my eyes and skin," Steve says. "I saw a local doctor for a blood test, urine test and ultrasound, and was told I had hepatitis C and needed to go straight home for immediate treatment. Little did I know what was to come after returning home to Utah."  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: bile duct cancer, Breast Cancer, Florida Campus, liver transplant, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center


February 19th, 2016

Many Hands Make Hopeful Work for Nielsen Boys

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

NielsenFamily805"There is something wrong" are words no expectant parent ever wants to hear. And for Ryan and Kathy Nielsen, they came just 20 weeks into Kathy's first pregnancy. The couple was eagerly awaiting the arrival of their child and had been busy getting their home ready. Then, doctors diagnosed their unborn son, Aaron, with congenital diaphragmatic hernia during Kathy's 20-week ultrasound. After the shock wore off, the couple began a search for answers that ultimately led them to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus.

"We debated on a number of facilities after Aaron's diagnosis, but we ended up coming to Mayo, because they offered an ECMO (heart and lung machine) as part of his treatment if he were to need it," Kathy says. "The other medical facilities did not."  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Be the Match, bone marrow transplant, Dr Shakila Khan, Neonatal Intensive Care, transplant, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome


January 30th, 2016

Mother and Daughter Winning Battle With Cancer Despite Family History of the Disease

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Yadira and Valeria Zepeda are mother and daughter cancer survivors. Most of us have known someone with cancer, either in our family or with a friend or an acquaintance. But cancer can be particularly cruel when it seems to target a specific family over and over again. For the Zepeda family of Miami, cancer has stricken a mother, her daughter, a number of other family members, and even the family dog.

Yadira Zepeda, a 67-year-old mother of four adult children, was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1991 and was told by her physician in Miami that she probably had two to four months to live. Not satisfied with what she heard and unwilling to give up after receiving that devastating news, at a friend’s recommendation she came to Mayo Clinic's Florida campus for the second opinion that has given her life and hope for the past 24 years.

“My Mayo physician for many years, Gerardo Colon-Otero, M.D., said at the time that while my condition was serious and that he couldn’t promise me a miracle, we would fight my disease with every available option, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and eventually with a bone marrow transplant which I received in 1994,” Yadira says. “While it’s been a long battle, including visits to Mayo every three months for many years, my condition has stabilized, and I’m still living my life, and I am able to enjoy my family long after I wasn’t supposed to be here.”

Yadira’s own battle with cancer took a back seat when in June 2008 her daughter Valeria was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia after unexplained bruises began appearing on her legs and arms. Based on her mother’s experience, Valeria went to Mayo Clinic and began receiving targeted chemotherapy for her disease. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Allogenic Bone Marrow Transplant, Bilateral Masectomay, Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, Dr Candido Rivera, Dr. Gerardo Colon-Otero, Dr Sikander Ailawashi, multiple myeloma


January 13th, 2016

Employee, Caregiver, Patient: Many Hats for Andrea Liptac

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Andrea Liptac found help for heart conditions at Mayo Clinic. Andrea Liptac describes her journey to Mayo Clinic as a "winding road."

She first learned about Mayo in the early 1990s, when she was living in Montana with her family. At that time, her mother, Kelli Liptac, was diagnosed with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure, and was referred to a specialist at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. Her chronic conditions would warrant multiple trips to Rochester over the years. She would ultimately land on the heart transplant list.

As Andrea approached college graduation in 2004 and began to consider where to apply her education as a laboratory technologist, she recalled her mother's visits to Rochester.

"My mom's treatment at Mayo Clinic indirectly influenced my decision to work here," Andrea recalls. She applied to work as a laboratory technician in the Protein Immunology Laboratory at Mayo and has remained in that role ever since.

Unfortunately, Andrea's Mayo Clinic experience went beyond her employment. She would learn she and her mother shared more in common than she knew, leading her on a  a surprising and difficult journey she says gave her a different perspective on Mayo Clinic and a new understanding of the patient experience.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: congestive heart failure, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Dr Barry Boilson, Employee Stories, Left Ventricular Assist Device, Patient Stories, Rochester Campus, transplant, Transplant List, Dr David Joyce


December 16th, 2015

Wife Gives Husband the Gift of Life with Living Donor Kidney

By Paul Scotti pscotti

Cameron Mullis received a living donor kidney transplant from his wife, Savannah. When 29-year-old Cameron Mullis of Jacksonville, Florida, was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy and told he’d need a kidney transplant, he was facing the likelihood of kidney dialysis and several years of waiting for a suitable donor. Little did he realize, his potential donor was living under the same roof as him.

IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger's disease, is a kidney disease that occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin A, or IgA, lodges in your kidneys. This results in local inflammation that, over time, may hamper your kidneys' ability to filter waste, excess water and electrolytes from your blood. Kidney damage may be indicated by blood and protein in the urine, high blood pressure and swollen feet. There currently is no cure for this disease outside of a kidney transplant.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Florida Campus, IgA Nephropathy, Kidney Dialysis, kidney disease, kidney transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center


December 10th, 2015

Complementary Medicine Provides Healing Touch for Patient in Final Days

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

Karl Weissig enjoying music and nature.Marilyn and David Weissing, both Mayo Clinic employees, knew something was wrong when their 19-year-old son, Karl, asked to be taken to the hospital one summer evening in 2014. Karl, always healthy and active, rarely complained about anything. So David immediately drove him to the Emergency Department at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus.

Karl, a beekeeper, was the third of eight children raised on a hobby farm in Winona County, Minnesota.  Karl developed an interest in sustainable farming as a young child and had worked with several local farmers to expand his knowledge and expertise.

He spent the winter after his high school graduation managing an organic dairy herd in Missouri. By the following July, he was back home working a construction job, making a movie with some friends, and playing in a bluegrass band with his brothers.

Karl was initially diagnosed with atypical hepatitis A, possibly acquired a few months earlier during an outbreak at a restaurant. When his liver started to fail, Karl was put on the liver transplant list and, miraculously, received a new liver before a month had passed.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Accupressure, Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Hepatitis A, Histiocytic Sarcoma, liver transplant, Massage Therapy, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center


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