Posted on January 15th, 2014 by mayoclinic
The first sign something was wrong came when Dennis Chavez was out hunting caribou with his wife, Maria. The Wasilla, Alaska, native suddenly found that he couldn’t cover ground like he used to. He quickly became winded — much more quickly than he expected.
He ignored the signs for a while. But one day a few weeks later, he found he could barely make it up a flight of stairs. He was breathing hard. His face was gray. His wife and daughter knew something was wrong. They got him on a flight to Anchorage, where after a series of tests and a biopsy, his doctor determined that his heart was enlarged and his lungs were hardening. Then his lungs collapsed.
The diagnosis was Langerhans, a rare disease where, according to the National Institutes of Health, immune system cells build up in the body causing a range of problems, as well as pulmonary hypertension. He would need a double-lung transplant.
Chavez's doctor in Anchorage told him he was going to need to be seen at a larger medical center equipped to do transplants and handle a complex case like his. Chavez and his wife did some research and decided their first choice was Mayo Clinic. What they learned was reinforced by his doctor.
"My doctor said, 'Mayo Clinic is the best place in the world,'" Chavez says. "I wanted to go to the best place.
Getting to Mayo Clinic, it turned out, wasn't going to be so easy. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on December 19th, 2013 by mayoclinic
Written by Jane Sullivan Horne
When I received a kidney from my brother David 10 years ago at Mayo Clinic in Florida, little did I know that someday my only son would have to undergo the same life-saving procedure after suffering from the same rare kidney disease that has plagued my family for several generations. Nor could I imagine that my brother’s son, Adam, would also give the same life-saving gift to my son, Trey, just 10 years later.
Several of my family members have suffered from a rare genetic kidney disorder called FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis), which causes scarring of the kidney and the eventual loss of function. According to the National Institutes of Health, which is studying our family’s history with this disease, mine is one of only 20 families in U.S. with this genetic pattern afflicting several generations of relatives. My father died of end stage renal disease when I was only 11 months old. My father's mother, and two of his brothers, also died of the disease. And the only exposure we’d had to transplants was in 1970 when our mother gave our brother, James, one of her kidneys. I eventually was diagnosed with FSGS and now my 26-year-old son, Trey, has it. While there is no cure for FSGS, a kidney transplant can give the patient a high quality of life for many years. I am truly an example of that now, more than 10 years after my transplant surgery.
Posted on December 12th, 2013 by mayoclinic
A year ago, the Robert Maddox family from Boyce, La., would never have imagined attending the 50th Anniversary of Kidney Transplantation celebration event at Mayo Clinic this month. A year ago, their 9-year-old son Robert, who goes by the nickname "Boo," was struggling to survive, and a transplant seemed impossible.
After a devastating bout of H1N1 (swine flu) in 2009 when he was just 5 years old, Boo spent nearly 500 days in Children’s Hospital of New Orleans. After multiple surgeries, numerous transfusions, and months of uncertainty, he recovered and survived despite the odds. But he was left with renal failure, dangerously high pulmonary pressure, and susceptibility for recurring infections. Doctors told the family that he would never be a candidate for a transplant, and was destined for a life of dialysis and complications from the high pressure and infections.
Determined to find hope, Robert and Renee Maddox brought their son to Mayo Clinic last winter and met with the kidney transplant team. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on November 25th, 2013 by mayoclinic
When Ernesto Boleaga learned that he needed a kidney transplant, the perfect donor, his identical twin brother, Jose Luis, was ready and willing to help. And because the Boleagas have the same genetic make-up, Ernesto’s body accepted Jose Luis’ kidney as its own.
For most patients, however, an identical twin donor isn’t an option, and they need to take medication to suppress their immune system so the body doesn't reject their new kidney. Doctors at Mayo Clinic want to change that.
The video below shows the Boleaga’s story and how Mayo Clinic physicians are researching ways to grow organs from a patient’s own stem cells. It's called regenerative medicine, and it offers hope for a solution to organ rejection.
Posted on November 20th, 2013 by mayoclinic
A patient in need of transplant touches Dr. Phil Fischer's heart and prompts him to explore living donation. As a result, a patient in need of a kidney lives on, enjoying her grandchildren, golfing and dancing.
The shortage of deceased donor organs has reached a crisis, with almost 120,000 people in need of a lifesaving organ nationwide. More than 3,000 of those people are Mayo Clinic patients. But for kidney, liver and bone marrow transplant patients, living donors can help shorten the wait time.
A recent survey found that nearly half of Americans would consider donating to a complete stranger — a statistic that has more than doubled in the past decade. It is becoming increasingly common for people to donate to family, friends and even strangers, so one of the 120,000 people on the wait list can receive the gift of renewed life.
One such donor is Phil Fischer, M.D., a pediatric and adolescent medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center. In this video interview, Dr. Fischer tells how a patient in need of a kidney transplant touched his heart and prompted him to explore anonymous living donation, sometimes referred to as good Samaritan, non-directed or altruistic donation. Dr. Fischer’s selfless act of donation enabled a woman in need of a kidney to live a full life, enjoying her grandchildren and dancing. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on November 11th, 2013 by mayoclinic
For his entire life, radio host James Rabe has known that one day he'd need a new kidney. A disease called Alport Syndrome slowly caused his kidneys to fail. As his condition advanced, the search for a new organ began. His big sister stepped up and gave part of herself so her little brother could live. They share their story in the video below.
While the outcomes for transplant patients who receive deceased donor organs are very good, transplants performed from living donors, like the gift given to James by his sister, can have several advantages. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on November 4th, 2013 by mayoclinic
It’s tough for anyone to deal with a cancer diagnosis, especially someone at the age of 18. Todd Blake, a Jacksonville, Fla., native, was just beginning life as a freshman at the University of Florida when he was diagnosed with late-stage Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a serious form of blood cancer. Fast-forward through countless treatments and multiple relapses, Todd decided to make the most of his situation by starting a nonprofit organization to help other young adults deal with their cancer diagnosis. Now, his wife, Maja, has joined the battle against cancer — recently joining Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Center research team and pursuing future cures for several types of blood cancer.
Posted on October 21st, 2013 by mayoclinic
Sunny and Bill Meadows moved from Arkansas to Minnesota to volunteer their time to help other patients. "We hope that by giving back in this way, we can express our appreciation for all Mayo Clinic has done for us," they say.
On the surface, Sunny and Bill Meadows' move from Fayetteville, Ark., to Rochester, Minn., doesn't sound particularly unique. Lots of people go from one part of the country to another. But rather than one of the typical reasons for relocation — such as taking a new job or living closer to family — the couple's decision to make a new home more than 600 miles away was based on deep gratitude and a keen desire to help others. Also, unlike most moves, it involved two kidney transplants.
The Meadows first traveled to Rochester in 2011 for appointments at Mayo Clinic. But their journey started long before then. Sunny was diagnosed with lupus in her early 30s. The disease took a heavy toll on her body over the years, eventually causing her kidneys to fail. Beginning in 2009, she required daily dialysis treatments that significantly restricted what she could do and where she could go.
After two years of dialysis, the couple began to explore the possibility of a kidney transplant for Sunny. Needing a new kidney due to lupus is not a common situation, however. The Meadows wanted to make sure she received care from medical professionals who had expertise working with people in her condition. Her local nephrologist recommended Mayo Clinic.
"From our very first visit, we knew Mayo Clinic was different," says Bill. "Even though we understood it was the place to go for unusual cases, we didn't have any idea that how extremely kind and caring everyone at Mayo would be. The patient-first philosophy was obvious from everyone there."
In June 2011, Sunny was part of a paired kidney donation at Mayo Clinic that involved six donors and six recipients. Sunny's sister gave a kidney to a recipient from New York. Sunny's kidney came from a donor in Arizona. The match was excellent, and her doctors are optimistic that her new kidney will last a long time.
After the transplant, Sunny's quality of life improved dramatically. She became much more active in work and at her church. The couple also began to travel, a hobby that had been out of reach while they were dealing with the effects of Sunny's kidney failure.
But enjoying this newfound freedom didn't seem like quite enough. When Bill and Sunny returned to Rochester for her one-year checkup, they told her medical team that they wanted to do something to help others. Bill volunteered to become a nondirected kidney donor — a donor who gives a kidney to someone he or she does not know.
"After going through years of sometimes agonizing days while Sunny was sick, there was little doubt in my mind that I wanted to at least offer an opportunity for someone else to have a second chance," says Bill.
He was accepted as a donor, and in October 2012, Bill underwent surgery to donate one of his kidneys. Then, after visiting Mayo Clinic for his four-month checkup, the couple began mulling over another idea.
As they were flying home, they both agreed that they felt a special sense of peace when they were in Rochester and at Mayo Clinic. Bill had previously spent dedicated time volunteering, so the two began considering the possibility of moving to Rochester and becoming full-time volunteers.
After that, several things happened that encouraged them to move forward. On a riverboat cruise the Meadows took during a visit to Belgium and The Netherlands, one of the first people they met — and who they got to know over the course of the trip — was a woman who had worked at Mayo Clinic for years. When they told their family about the idea, the couple received support and encouragement. As they explored the financial aspects of the move, they found they would likely be able to manage it. So in June 2013, they put their house in Fayetteville up for sale. It sold in 20 days, sealing their decision to move north.
In September, Sunny began volunteering at the Gift of Life Transplant House, which offers lodging to Mayo Clinic transplant patients and their families. Bill will spend his time volunteering at Charter House, a retirement community owned by Mayo Clinic in downtown Rochester. Their plan is to stay in Rochester for at least two years.
"It is hard for us to express how thankful we are for the care Sunny received. We are indebted to Mayo Clinic for saving her life," says Bill. "We hope that by giving back in this way, we can express our appreciation for all Mayo Clinic has done for us."
Posted on September 26th, 2013 by mayoclinic
Sisters Amber and Sabrina Starke wear matching necklaces and rings as a reminder of their commitment to each other and to keep fighting the fight against leukemia.
After graduating from high school, Amber started college in May 2003. She passed out at work one day and was taken to her local emergency department. A CT scan revealed a tumor the size of a grapefruit between her heart and lung. The tumor was putting pressure on her heart, which caused her to collapse at work. Her doctors then performed a biopsy on the tumor, which showed Hodgkin's lymphoma. After completing six months of chemotherapy and four weeks of radiation, Amber was considered to be in remission. She then went back to work and lived a normal life, until about 10 years later.
Posted on September 11th, 2013 by Admin
When Tammi Cummings learned that her sister, Terri McMillan, needed a kidney transplant after a 40-year history of diabetes finally took its toll on her health, she never hesitated for a second about the idea of providing one of her own kidneys.
Cummings, 52, of West Melbourne, Fla., not only gave her sister a renewed lease on life by donating one of her kidneys, but she has shown that doing so wasn’t a major physical disruption in her life. In fact, just two weeks after donating her kidney, she participated in a 5K walk called the “National Kidney Foundation Footprints in the Sand Walk” at the Cocoa Beach Pier.
“My doctors told me to start walking to help speed up my recovery, so that’s exactly what I did,” says Cummings. “The short-term discomfort of donating my kidney was nothing compared to the reward of knowing that I was able to help my sister, who was suffering from kidney disease.”