Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff


October 26th, 2016

Colleagues Go From Sharing a Workplace to Sharing a Kidney

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Dawn Odenthal was more than willing to donate a kidney to help a colleague, Jolinda Conzemius. When Dawn Odenthal sat down for a meeting with her colleague Jolinda Conzemius in June 2014, organ donation was nowhere on her radar. The two women knew one another through their work at a company that specializes in school photography, yearbooks, church directories and other forms of memory preservation. Dawn is a regional sales director, and Jolinda is a photographer. They were meeting to talk about a project they had been assigned to work on together.

By the time they got up from the table that afternoon, however, they had started a process that would culminate in Dawn donating one of her kidneys to Jolinda for a life-altering kidney transplant at Mayo Clinic.

“I absolutely wanted to do this for her,” says Dawn. “There wasn’t a question in my mind.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: kidney transplant, Living donor transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

October 19th, 2016

Living Donor to Kidney Recipient: ‘I Feel Like the Winner in All This’

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

katiandnancy805The email from a parent at her school in May 2013 took Nancy Shaver, an elementary school principal, by surprise. It was from Kati Walker, mother of two, who was on a mission: to donate one of her kidneys to Nancy, who greatly needed one.

Kati's message announced, "I'm going to be tested to be a kidney donor." Nancy, in her characteristic unassuming manner, replied, "Oh, how nice for someone!" Kati quickly replied, "No, it's for you, silly!"

Kati, two decades younger than Nancy, knew Nancy only as the principal at her children’s school. Nancy knew Kati as a parent and active volunteer. But that email exchange launched a journey to a life-saving kidney transplant for Nancy and a bond between the two women that they attest will last a lifetime.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Arizona campus, kidney disease, kidney transplant, Living donor transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

September 24th, 2016

Liver Transplant Allows Young Father to Be There for His Family

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Thanks to a living-donor liver transplant at Mayo Clinic, Bryan Duncan overcame a life-threatening liver disease and has been able to return to life with his young family.

Bryan Duncan didn’t think twice about the lab tests he had as part of a routine medical checkup in the fall of 2014. A 29-year-old father of two small children, Bryan led a busy life, didn’t have any health problems, and felt fine.

When the test results came back, though, they showed enzyme levels in Bryan’s liver were higher than normal. This unexpected finding kicked off more than two years of extensive medical care. It brought Bryan from his hometown of Mountain View, Arkansas, to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, where he was diagnosed with a rare liver disease, and where he eventually received a life-saving living-donor liver transplant.

“The way my disease works, if I had waited for a deceased donor, I probably would have been too sick for a transplant,” Bryan says. “Being able to have a living-donor transplant opened up the opportunity for me to get the second chance I needed.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Nicholas LaRusso, gastroenterology, Hepatology, liver transplant, Living donor transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

September 17th, 2016

Brothers Bond Over Kidney Disease, Transplant

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

The Berry Brother share more than blood after a kidney transplant. Scott Berry is one of five children. But he and his youngest sibling, David, share a very unique bond — a kidney, to be exact. On April 12, 2016, David gave his older brother a second chance at life by donating one of his kidneys to Scott for a transplant.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Martin Mai, Florida Campus, IgA Nephropathy, kidney transplant, living donor, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

August 16th, 2016

Coordination and Teamwork Make Simultaneous Surgeries Seamless for Heart Transplant Recipients

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

WilliamandMichale805Michael Tyler and William Tiger didn’t know one another before the summer of 2016. But they now share a unique life event. Both 55-year-olds underwent heart transplant surgery at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus on the same day, at the same time. Completing the simultaneous procedures was a milestone for the Transplant Center team in Arizona, who had not previously been called on to perform more than one heart transplant at a time.

“It was truly remarkable how the team came together,” says transplant coordinator Allison Smith, who said the offers for both hearts came in on a Friday afternoon. Extensive coordination and precise timing were crucial to providing the best possible outcomes for the patients.

“When we all came in on Monday morning and knew the patients were doing well, it was like a euphoric high,” she says.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Arizona campus, Dr Louis Lanza, Dr Octavio Pajaro, heart transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Michael Marranca, ventricular assist device

August 12th, 2016

Life Beyond A Heart Transplant is Vibrant and Full for Elmo Aquino

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

For years, Elmo Aquino dealt with persistent heart problems that eventually led to a heart transplant. Since then, he’s moved forward and has been thriving, both personally and professionally.

Fifteen years ago, Elmo Aquino, a resident of Orange Park, Florida, was an avid runner. He’d competed in Jacksonville's Gate River Run, an annual 15-kilometer running event, several times. But one morning in the summer of 2001, his active lifestyle came to an abrupt end when suddenly, while on a treadmill, he found he couldn’t run.

“I knew something was wrong, because I was used to running,” recalls Elmo, now age 43. He knew he needed medical treatment. “I could have gone to some of the other hospitals,” he says. “But with Mayo Clinic here in town, it was a no-brainer for me.”

Elmo was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy — a condition in which the chambers of the heart become enlarged — and he ended up in the intensive care unit. That’s where he first met Daniel Yip, M.D., medical director for the Heart Failure and Transplant Program at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Dr Daniel Yip, Dr Jeffrey Hosenpud, Left Ventricular Assist Device, Mayo Clinic in Florida, transient ischemic attack

August 5th, 2016

Double Lung Transplant Recipient Beats Cystic Fibrosis to Become A Running and Fitness Enthusiast

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

After fighting cystic fibrosis for more than a decade, Tammy Bolerjack received a life-saving double-lung transplant at Mayo Clinic. Taking full advantage of her renewed health, today she’s fit and running strong. When Tammy Bolerjack was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 18, she found herself frequently in and out of hospitals for treatments to help her breathe. Running 5K races and half-marathons certainly wasn’t something she envisioned in her future. Little did she know then that eventually a double lung transplant at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus would not only allow her to breath normally, but would motivate her to become a fitness enthusiast and a competitive runner.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cystic fibrosis, Emergency medicine, Florida Campus, lung transplant, organ donation

August 4th, 2016

Mayo Clinic’s First Lung Transplant Recipient in Florida Makes Most of Every Moment for 15 Years and Counting

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Richard and Janice Oppelt with transplant surgeon Dr. Cesar Keller. When Richard Oppelt arrived at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus in early 2001, his lung capacity was minimal – only 21 percent of what it should have been.

A sandblaster for 24 years, Richard, from Melbourne, Florida, had developed silicosis, a lung disease caused by breathing in silica dust, which can damage the lining of the lung air sacs, and cause scarring and stiffening of the lung, making it difficult to breathe.

"When talking with someone, I would have to take a break to catch my breath," Richard says. "I was so short of breath sometimes that my wife had to finish my sentences. I also had a hard time making it up the stairs in my house without stopping several times."
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Tags: Dr Cesar Kellar, Florida Campus, lung transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Silicosis

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

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