September 16th, 2015 · 2 Comments
Heads turned when Aries Merritt walked into the lobby at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix at 5 a.m. on Sept. 1, with family and TV cameras in tow. Just four days earlier, he won a bronze medal in the 110-meter hurdles at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. But, on this day, facing one of his biggest hurdles, he was about to undergo a lifesaving kidney transplant.Â Read the rest of this entry »
August 31st, 2015 · Leave a Comment
At 27 weeks into her pregnancy with twins, Amber Sylvester went to Mayo Clinic with her husband, Mike, for an ultrasound test and received news that no parent wants to hear. One of the babies was in trouble. She had enlarged kidneys, no amniotic fluid around her body, and fluid in her abdomen. She would likely not survive until birth. Even if she did survive, doctors said she would likely not live long enough to receive a transplant.
Amber remembers that appointment clearly. â€śThe tech asked me if my water broke,â€ť she says. â€śWhen I saw the concern on her face, I knew that something was not right. All I can remember is crying hysterically.â€ťÂ Read the rest of this entry »
August 13th, 2015 · Leave a Comment
As an endurance athlete who has completed six Ironman triathlons and more than two dozen marathons, Michael Koetting does not fear physical challenges. So when he learned he could use his good health to help a stranger in need, he never hesitated.Â Read the rest of this entry »
August 12th, 2015 · Leave a Comment
Nobody knows better than Jon Jantomaso how precious every breath can be. The 49-year-old realtor from Seminole, Florida, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 2 months of age, and for the first 12 years of his life slept in a mist filled tent to help him breath and clear the mucus from his lungs. He has been in some form of physical therapy his entire life battling his disease.Â Read the rest of this entry »
June 4th, 2015 · Leave a Comment
Born with five congenital heart defects and suffering through several medical complications, Courtney needed both a new heart and a new liver. Previous surgeries at ages 2, 6, 12 and then again at 22, and numerous blood transfusions over the years, had caused her immune system to develop high levels of antibodies that would attack and reject foreign tissues.
She was told that her risk of organ rejection was too high if she received a heart and liver transplant in the usual order. HerÂ Mayo ClinicÂ doctors, however, turned her dire situation into an advantage, and she was one of the first in the world to receive an organ transplant in a way that was likely her only chance to survive.Â Read the rest of this entry »
April 21st, 2015 · Leave a Comment
Receiving a donor kidney from an anonymous deceased donor is a gift of life to anyone in need of a transplant.Â Receiving an organ donation from a living family member is extra special, when you consider the risks and sacrifices associated with making that choice.
Tammy Stelly, a 46-year-old retired postal worker from Middleburg, Florida, experienced that special gift when her brother-in-law was found to be a compatible match and became her living kidney donor.
â€śI was overwhelmed that he offered to be tested as a possible match,â€ť says Tammy. â€śI never imagined that we might actually be a compatible match.â€ť
Tammy isnâ€™t the first member of her family to have kidney disease, nor was she the first to receive a kidney transplant from a living donor who also is a family member. One of her relatives received a kidney from his daughter many years ago, and lived another 17 years before passing away due to unrelated causes.Â Read the rest of this entry »
April 1st, 2015 · Leave a Comment
If youâ€™re diagnosed with a serious illness, itÂ can beÂ easy to get down and wonder why this is happening to you and how will it affectÂ your future goals and dreams. For 57-year-old Jim McGarry of Fruit Cove, Florida, a diagnosis of end-stage renal diseaseÂ that has required him to go on dialysis three days a week while he awaits a donor kidney hasnâ€™t gotten him down. If anything, itâ€™s given him the motivation to push himself to set and achieve new life goals.
â€śFinding out I had kidney disease in 2012, after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 10Â years earlier, was a wake-up call for me about how I was living my life,â€ť says Jim. â€śI used to travel a lot, didnâ€™t eat right, and didnâ€™t get enough exercise, but that all changed once I realized I needed to deal with my health issues. Then I started to make some much-needed changes to regain my health and re-evaluate the priorities in my life.â€ť
February 20th, 2015 · Leave a Comment
Heâ€™s a former Green Beret who served in Somalia. Heâ€™s a record-holdingÂ skydiver with several thousand jumps under his belt since he began leaping out of airplanes at age 18. And heâ€™s a liver transplant recipient, who affectionately refers to his transplanted organ as â€śSam.â€ť
Kim Dobson, 63, of Oveido, Florida, is the definition of someone who lives life to the fullest. He not only participates in national and international skydiving competitions, but also scuba dives, plays golf, and enjoys shooting sports. With both a sports and military background, he was active, fit and the picture of health. But that all changed in 1994, after knee surgery and after undergoing a series of tests for back pain. Told he had elevated liver enzymes, KimÂ was eventually diagnosed with type 3 hepatitis C. Surprised but confident he could beat his disease and resume his active lifestyle, he went through three cycles/47 weeks of interferon treatments at a hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.
February 6th, 2015 · Leave a Comment
Mayo Clinic patient Don Salamone is proof that being in great shape before undergoing a heart transplant can enhance recovery. Even while tethered to a ventricular assist device that kept his heart functioning until the transplant surgery, he pushed himself to work out on a stationary bike for two hours daily and walked several miles on a treadmill.
While he could handily beat the competition in races before he received the implanted device, he couldnâ€™t beat viral cardiomyopathy, which makes it harder for your heart to pump and deliver blood to the rest of your body, and can lead to heart failure.
DonÂ underwent his heart transplant surgery in October 2012. True to his mission, he spent only eight days in the hospital following the surgery.
â€śI made a pledge to be in good shape before the surgery and to always honor my responsibility to my donor to take care of this heart,â€ť Don says. As a result, within days of his surgery, he was up early, walking laps, training and eventually competing in numerous runs in Arizona and elsewhere.
Fast forward to Jan. 16, 2015. Now close to age 60, Don was living his promise. He was at the 10K starting line at the popular P.F. Changâ€™s Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in Phoenix, where some 30,000 athletes participated.Â Read the rest of this entry »
January 27th, 2015 · Leave a Comment
For most organ transplant recipients, receiving the â€śgift of lifeâ€ť is a one-time experience. But for Nellie Betancourt, battling the hepatitis C virus that had been in hiding in her body for years required another â€śsecond chance at life,â€ť thanks to a second generous donor and a new generation of anti-viral drugs.
Betancourt, a 56-year-old mother of two and grandmother of seven from Puerto Rico, was first diagnosed with elevated liver enzymes during a routine exam in 1995. Further testing revealed a positive result for the hepatitis C virus, which resulted in several rounds of standard anti-viral drug treatments over the next several years, none of which were successful in effectively managing her disease. This began a 20-year battle with hepatitis C that was to eventually include two liver transplants performed at Mayo Clinicâ€™s Florida campus.
â€śBy 2002, I was told that my liver enzymes were rapidly increasing, and that Iâ€™d eventually need a liver transplant or face liver failure,â€ť says Betancourt. â€śI was only 42 years old at the time.â€ť Read the rest of this entry »