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Author Topic: Sisters celebrate 40th anniversary of kidney transplant  (Read 1717 times)
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Photo is Jenna - after Disneyland - 1988

« on: July 20, 2014, 09:28:24 PM »

Sisters celebrate 40th anniversary of kidney transplant

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Call UAB HealthFinder at 800-822-8816 to find out more about the UAB Kidney Transplant Program.
Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014 3:30 am

By Peggy Ussery
Staff Writer

When Vivian Bond needed a kidney, her sister Brenda Kent gave her one. That was nearly 40 years ago ─ 40 years of life Vivian may not have had otherwise.
She watched her son and grandchildren grow. She became an advocate as president of the local Kidney Foundation chapter. And despite being recently diagnosed with cancer for the fifth time, Vivian has survived without any trouble from her kidney.
The sisters are part of a close-knit family ─ a brother, seven sisters and a step-sister. But Vivian and Brenda have a special bond.
“Brenda gave me a second chance at life,” Vivian said. “I carry around a part of her with me all the time.”
The two sisters plan to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the kidney transplant on July 25, although they are not sure exactly what they will be doing.
The milestone would be a remarkable occasion for any kidney transplant recipient.
“The average graft survival is 10 to 12 years for all comers,” said Dr. Jayme Locke, a kidney transplant surgeon at UAB Hospital. “To be able to keep a kidney for 40 years is really remarkable and rare.”
There are nearly 4,000 people in Alabama waiting for a kidney transplant, according to statistics from the Alabama Organ Center and UAB Hospital in Birmingham. Nationally, there are 100,000 people waiting for kidneys (that’s out of more than 122,000 people waiting for transplants overall).
The kidney transplant program at UAB Hospital ─ where Vivian’s transplant was done in 1974 ─ has performed more living donor kidney transplants than any other hospital in the nation since 1987. UAB is the only hospital in the Alabama that performs kidney transplants.
Vivian’s medical journey began with symptoms like swelling, weakness, and shortness of breath. She was diagnosed with acute nephritis and was in kidney failure. Vivian was 21 at the time. Her situation became so grave, that she was rushed from her doctor’s office to the hospital. She was in a coma for a week.
Once she awakened, she was flown to UAB Hospital in Birmingham. She became well enough to return home to Midland City, but every Tuesday and Friday, her mother or a sister drove her to Birmingham for dialysis since Dothan didn’t have a dialysis center in 1974.
Her family members were tested. None matched or couldn’t donate for other reasons. Brenda was pregnant at the time and watched her sister go through dialysis for the entire nine months of her pregnancy. As soon as she could after giving birth, Brenda ─ 25 at the time ─ made the trip to Birmingham to be tested. She matched and had no hesitation.
“I love all my family but she is a part of me,” Brenda said. “… And if I had it to do over again and could, I would, again. I’ve never regretted it.”
The surgery for Brenda was not easy. Doctors had to remove a rib to get to the kidney. But advancements in surgical procedures have allowed for smaller incisions and laparoscopic removal of the kidney in some cases, Locke of UAB said.
Living donor transplants tend to last longer than transplants from deceased donors, Locke said. And there are ways now to get around incompatibilities with blood and tissue types. UAB started a paired kidney exchange program in 2006, matching pairs of incompatible donors and recipients with other pairs of incompatible donors and recipients until they find a compatible match. UAB also developed a treatment called desensitization, a process to remove incompatible antibodies from a recipient’s blood, which has increased the chances of successful transplants.
“When you look at the statistics, people who want to come forward and donate on someone’s behalf, half of them will not match their loved one either because their blood group doesn’t match or their tissue doesn’t match,” Locke said. “So, if you don’t have access to an incompatible program like we have here that uses these methods such as chains and swaps and desensitization to help you overcome that incompatibility, you’re relegated to the deceased donor waiting list. Here in Alabama, our wait times are quite long and you can wait upwards of 10 years.”
Donors and recipients like Brenda Kent and Vivian Bond have helped doctors learn and develop ways to overcome transplant incompatibilities that could not have been overcome in 1974, Locke said.
UAB currently has a “kidney chain” through its incompatible program that has involved 42 participants ─ donors and recipients ─ from nine states. It all started with a Pelham woman who approached UAB about becoming a living donor. Six more transplants are set to be done in August and another two in September ─ all part of that same kidney chain.
Ann Rayburn, senior manager of education with Alabama Organ Center, said the center encourages people who wish to donate their organs after their death to have a conversation with family members about their wishes. Dialysis can be done for kidney patients waiting for a transplant, but there’s no equivalent treatment for other organs, and Rayburn said the wait can be too long for some people.
Life for Vivian since the transplant 40 years ago has not always been easy. She has had cancer ─ even placed under hospice care at one point ─ and struggled with the death of her husband. Just a few weeks ago, she learned her cancer had returned in her abdomen and lower back. But through everything, she has kept going without complaint, leaning on her faith in God to guide her.
Her siblings are in constant awe of her.
“She is our hero,” said Nell Baker, one of Vivian and Brenda’s younger sisters. “She has been sick all her life, and she is a fighter.”


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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