October 26th, 2016
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.
â€śI absolutely wanted to do this for her,â€ť says Dawn. â€śThere wasnâ€™t a question in my mind.â€ť Read the rest of this entry »
October 19th, 2016
The 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 childrenâ€™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.Â Read the rest of this entry »
September 24th, 2016
Bryan Duncan didnâ€™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, didnâ€™t have any health problems, and felt fine.
When the test results came back, though, they showed enzyme levels in Bryanâ€™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'sÂ Rochester campus, where he was diagnosed with a rare liver disease, and where he eventually received a life-saving living-donor liver transplant.
â€śThe way my disease works, if I had waited for a deceased donor, I probably would have been too sick for a transplant,â€ť Bryan says. â€śBeing able to have a living-donor transplant opened up the opportunity for me to get the second chance I needed.â€ť Read the rest of this entry »
September 17th, 2016
Scott Berry is one of five children. But he and his youngest sibling, David, share a very unique bond â€” 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.Â Read the rest of this entry »
August 16th, 2016
Michael Tyler and William Tiger didnâ€™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 Clinicâ€™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.
â€śIt was truly remarkable how the team came together,â€ť 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.
â€śWhen we all came in on Monday morning and knew the patients were doing well, it was like a euphoric high,â€ť she says.Â Read the rest of this entry »
August 12th, 2016
Fifteen years ago, Elmo Aquino, a resident of Orange Park, Florida, was an avid runner. Heâ€™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 couldnâ€™t run.
â€śI knew something was wrong, because I was used to running,â€ť recalls Elmo, now age 43. He knew he needed medical treatment. â€śI could have gone to some of the other hospitals,â€ť he says. â€śBut with Mayo Clinic here in town, it was a no-brainer for me.â€ť
Elmo was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy â€” a condition in which the chambers of the heart become enlarged â€” and he ended up in the intensive care unit. Thatâ€™s where heÂ first met Daniel Yip, M.D., medical director for the Heart Failure and Transplant Program at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.Â Read the rest of this entry »
August 5th, 2016
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 wasnâ€™t something she envisioned in her future. Little did she know then that eventually a double lung transplant at Mayo Clinic's Florida campusÂ would not only allow her to breath normally, but would motivate her to become a fitness enthusiast and a competitive runner.Â Read the rest of this entry »
August 4th, 2016
When Richard Oppelt arrived at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus in early 2001, his lung capacity was minimal â€“ 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."
Read the rest of this entry »
July 1st, 2016
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.
â€śWe had a lot of fun. Everywhere Kathy went at Mayo, weâ€™d talk, laugh and get people to do the happy dance with her,â€ť Carol says. â€śShe had a big personality.â€ť
June 28th, 2016
When Randy Marlow checked into Mayo Clinic Hospital's Saint Marys Campus, he knew his hospital stay would be lengthy. He just wasnâ€™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.Â Read the rest of this entry »