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Author Topic: Tampa General celebrates 40 years of kidney transplantation  (Read 2404 times)
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Photo is Jenna - after Disneyland - 1988

« on: June 21, 2014, 12:59:36 PM »

Tampa General celebrates 40 years of kidney transplantation

Saturday, June 21, 2014 9:57am

TAMPA -- As a little girl, Cindy Ellis was frequently ill. Then a severe respiratory infection traveled to her
kidneys. Doctors said the damage was so great that Ellis wouldn't make it to age 6.
But Ellis kept on celebrating birthdays. It took 20 years for her kidneys to fail, requiring nearly 12 hours a week
of dialysis.
By then, it was the late 1970s, and Ellis was 25 and married with a little girl of her own. Spending so much time
immobile, hooked up to blood-cleaning equipment, was miserable.
"It was awful being surrounded by such sick and disabled people sitting next to machines the size of washing
machines. I had tracks on my arms from all the needles and was always so sick afterward. I threw up the rest of
the day and had no energy. After six months I told them I was through."
But then her older sister, Corinne, declared she would give her a kidney.
"I was flabbergasted. Amazed. Grateful," said Ellis, now 62 and still very close with her sister. "I never asked her
to do it. Maybe my parents did, I don't know. But once I knew that she would be my donor, I knew everything
would be okay."
Ellis had the transplant on May 25, 1977, at Tampa General Hospital. Today, she is the longest living known
survivor of its kidney program, celebrating 40 years in business this month. It is one of eight active kidney
transplant centers in Florida, and one of four that also does heart, lung, liver and pancreas transplants.
The first Tampa General kidney transplant took place on June 18, 1974, about a year after Medicare began
covering transplants for adults with end stage renal disease.
"Back in those early days of kidney transplantation, (organ) survival was about 50 to 60 percent," said Dr. Victor
Bowers, executive director of abdominal transplant programs at Tampa General. "Today it's more than 90
percent, and patient survival is 98 to 99 percent."
At the beginning, most kidney donors were living relatives, so though few people could get the surgery, they
didn't face long waits. Family donations still happen when possible, but many other patients languish while
waiting for donations from strangers, living or dead.
"We had maybe 100 patients a year in the '70s and got through pretty much all the list," said Bowers, who joined
the hospital in 1990 as a transplant surgeon. "Today, the average wait for a kidney (in Tampa) is two to three
years, which is less than the national average. In cities like L.A., the wait is five to 10 years."

Brittany Fisher is another graduate of the Tampa program. She grew up in Brandon, graduated from the
Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa and now works as a nephrology researcher at Boston Children's Hospital.
"I was always interested in understanding kidney problems, particularly in children," said Fisher, who had her
transplant in 1991, at age 3. Fisher's mother, Diann, was her donor.
"I was very lucky that I received her kidney," said Fisher, now 26, "Living donation is the best option for
transplant success."
Bowers echoes that, explaining that a kidney from a donor who dies in an accident might not be quite as healthy
as one from a living donor.
"When we have a brain death, it has an ill effect on the body and the kidney itself sometimes," he said. "Also,
living donors are very, very well screened," said Bowers. "They have to be in top physical health and have a
perfect kidney. That can be hard to get from a deceased donor."
No matter the source of the organ, recipients must take antirejection medications for the rest of their lives.
Ellis' medicines include high doses of the steroid prednisone and other drugs that weakened her bones, destroyed
several joints—she's had one hip replaced three times—and even caused cancer. But she fears changing drugs
could trigger rejection.
Fisher has had no such side effects so far, probably because of newer, less toxic drugs. Other developments that
have improved transplant outcomes include greater understanding of how the immune system works and better
ways of screening for and treating infectious diseases that could be life threatening to transplant patients. Bowers
says that laparoscopic surgery, with its tiny incisions, has revolutionized the procedure for living donors. There is
less pain, shorter hospital stays—two days versus a week or more—and donors get back to normal activities
Another relatively recent development helping more people get transplants is donor chains. These are complex
networks of donors whose kidneys might be incompatible with an intended recipient, but who will give an organ
to a stranger as long as there's a kidney within the chain for the person they most want to help.
But several health trends are increasing demand for kidneys while decreasing eligible donors, Bowers said.
"Kidney disease is epidemic in this country, largely because of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and aging,'' he
said. "Diabetes is responsible for 40 percent of kidney transplant patients."
That also affects the pool of available living donors. "If you have diabetes or hypertension, it's not likely you'll be
cleared to be a kidney donor,'' he said.
The good news, though, is that for healthy donors, giving a kidney is safe. "There's no increased incidence of
renal disease in these donors," said Bowers.
Diann Fisher never had a problem after giving her daughter a kidney.
"In our family, we say she gave me life twice," said her daughter Brittany. "When she gave birth to me and when
she gave me her kidney."

Contact Irene Maher at imaher@tampabay.com

100,874: Americans waiting for a kidney
4,453: Floridians waiting
5,048: Kidney transplants at Tampa General since the program opened June 18, 1974
96: number of kidney transplants at Tampa General so far this year
$262,900: Estimated U.S. total average charges for a kidney transplant
49: average age of adult kidney transplant patient at Tampa General
11: average age of pediatric transplant patient at Tampa General
200: average number of kidney transplants at Tampa General each year
100: average number of liver transplants at Tampa General each year
50: average number of heart transplants at Tampa General each year
45: average number of lung transplants at Tampa General each year
SOURCES: Tampa General Hospital, U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network,


Admin for IHateDialysis 2008 - 2014, retired.
Jenna is our daughter, bad bladder damaged her kidneys.
Was on in-center hemodialysis 2003-2007.
7 yr transplant lost due to rejection.
She did PD Sept. 2013 - July 2017
Found a swap living donor using social media, friends, family.
New kidney in a paired donation swap July 26, 2017.
Her story ---> https://www.facebook.com/WantedKidneyDonor
Please watch her video: http://youtu.be/D9ZuVJ_s80Y
Living Donors Rock! http://www.livingdonorsonline.org -
News video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-7KvgQDWpU
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2014, 08:28:13 AM »

The TGH transplant program was started by Dr John R. Ackerman from Capetown, South Africa.

I remember him well as a young energetic transplant surgeon when he talked to my mother and I (in his english type accent) about taking us off the dialysis machine and being the first mother/son transplant.

My nephrologist Dr. Felix LoCicero had us take a wait & see attitude about this new program as their success rates were in the 60-70% range and the heavy doses of prednisone created all kinds of problems. I saw some young people go for it but not survive dying with some kind of infection or pneumonia.

Eventually I received a transplant in '87' at Shands by Dr. Pfaff which lasted 14 years until 2001. My mother passed away in '79' (8 years after starting D) from complications from abdominal surgery.

hd 73
tx  87
hd 01

by the yard life is hard by the inch it's a cinch...
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