David Bruce: Transplants Stories

• United States Marine Sergeant Jacob Chadwick, who spent most of 2009 in Iraq and who has a young daughter named Ella Marie, needed a kidney transplant, and he received a kidney from a fellow Marine. On 1 August 2011 at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, 2nd Lieutenant Patrick Wayland, age 24, suffered a cardiac arrest during a swim training exercise. He spent a few days in a hospital with his brain swelling, and on August 5, doctors pronounced him brain-dead. His parents wanted to donate his organs to save other people’s lives. Lieutenant Jeff Moore, a Navy doctor, served as a witness to the document. Lieutenant Moore wondered whether 2nd Lieutenant Wayland’s organs could save the life of another Marine. He used Google to search for “Marine needs a kidney” and found links to articles about Sergeant Chadwick. The parents of 2nd Lieutenant Wayland agreed that Sergeant Chadwick should get the kidney, and Lieutenant Moore called the San Diego hospital where Sergeant Jacob Chadwick got dialysis and asked, “How do I make sure Jacob gets this Marine’s kidney?” Hospital staff checked to see if the kidney was a match; it was. The transplant occurred. Second Lieutenant John Silvestro, who was a friend of 2nd Lieutenant Patrick Wayland, said, “Patrick took an oath to serve his country. Few people are able to do that. Patrick, he would consider himself lucky to serve not only his country, but his fellow Marine.” David Lewino, a transplant coordinator at UC San Diego Medical Center, said, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and have never seen anything like it. That whole sense of Marine family — you hear about it, but when you see it first hand, you really believe it.” Sergeant Chadwick said, “This is not how it usually happens. It was just meant to be. When you’re on dialysis, you think everything’s against you. Then something good like this happens.”

• In 2008, Nicole Goldenstein, age 23, gave her brother, Joey Goldenstein, age 25, her left kidney. Ever since the 6thgrade, he had battled kidney disease. In July 2008, his kidneys were functioning at nine percent and he started dialysis. To survive, he needed a kidney transplant. Nicole said about her decision to donate one of her kidneys to her brother, a father of two, “I have a child of my own. I can’t imagine him growing up without me.” After the operation, she said, “Seeing him [Joey] play with his kids, knowing he’ll have more time with his kids, giving him a better quality of life … it was really definitely worth it. He’s smiling more. He’s happy.” It took a while for Nicole to recover from the surgery, but she is happy with her decision. Nicole said, “You’re down a little bit, but not that long. It’s definitely worth it. Joey’s doing really, really good. He felt good right after the transplant. When you don’t feel well for so long … his color is better, he starts getting an appetite, he just starts feeling better.” She also encouraged other people to consider becoming a living donor of a kidney. She pointed out, “The biggest misconception is it’s going to cost you money. The recipient’s insurance covers all medical expenses. The only thing it costs you is a couple weeks off work.” As far as living the rest of her life with one kidney, Nicole said, “I know I’ll be perfectly fine with one kidney. It’s not really that big of a deal.” Washington University transplant surgeons performed the surgeries at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.

• Sometimes, only a heart transplant can save the life of a baby. Claude Bride was sitting by the hospital bed of her 14-month-old daughter, Margaux, when Margaux suffered a heart attack. Ms. Bride said, “The nurse began to scream for help and four doctors ran in with a defibrillator. As they ushered me out, I knew things didn’t look good. I just stood there sobbing and calling out her name. It took three attempts before they restarted Margaux’s heart. But the next day it stopped again and the doctors warned me that time was running out. She had been on the transplant register three months. Why would a new heart suddenly become available in the next few days?” Eighteen hours later, a new heart became available. In October 2011 Sir Magdi Yacoub performed the transplant, and Margaux recovered at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, England. Ms. Bride said, “It is the most incredible feeling to hold her and see her smile. It is truly a miracle.” Since birth, Margaux had had 17 operations on her heart. Unfortunately, for a child’s heart to become available for transplant, a child must die. Margaux’ heart came from a child in the mainland of Europe. Ms. Bride said that she would write that child’s family to let them know that their child’s heart saved the life of her daughter. She said, “I […] hope it may bring them some comfort.”

• In 2004, Brooke Williams, age 27, of Gouverneur, New York, was so ill from acute leukemia that she was making plans for her funeral and trying to decide whom to ask to care for her six-year-old daughter. Then she received the good news that a donor had been found for her. The stem cells of Brooklyn firefighter John Jensen were a perfect match for Ms. Williams, and two years after his stem cells were surgically transfused into her body, she was cured of leukemia. She said, “Thank God it was him. If he hadn’t done it, who knows what would have happened?” She added, “Him being a firefighter on top of that. I mean how much more could you do?” Mr. Jensen had signed up to be a donor while he was in the Fire Academy at Randall’s Island. He said about his decision to become a donor, “I didn’t give it a second thought. I just feel that I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing that I didn’t help someone.”

• “We held hands and it took about an hour and a half for his blood to enter my system. His blood cells that carry the immune system found their way into my body.”— Kevin Hearn, keyboardist for Barenaked Ladies (and leukemia survivor).

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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