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Dolores: My biggest fear is that he goes to sleep one night and that he doesn’t wake up. I get up in the middle of the night and I go over to him and make sure that he’s still breathing.
Tammy Wright, Transplant Coordinator: He’s gotten sicker and sicker and his kidney function is getting very low. Over the long term, those kidneys are going to completely fail.
Dave: I was getting really out of breath just walking to the mailbox and back.
Dolores: He’s down to 7 percent kidney function. This is my soul mate…he’s my other half and I love him with all my heart. He needs a kidney and I am going to give him my kidney.
Tammy: We believe that she can do it. And I think that’s a big thing, is having somebody on your side. We have over 80,000 people waiting for a kidney transplant in the United States. We have approximately 500 here at Sharp. Each day that they are waiting they can get sicker and sicker and by the time five years passes they may not be a candidate anymore. So we really do encourage the living donation process for that reason.
Dr. Barry Browne, Kidney Transplant Surgeon: The average transplant center does somewhere around 40 transplants a year. And we’re doing, we’ve done around 80 the last couple of years and we’re on target to do about 100 this year.
Your operation goes first. We want to make sure you’re asleep and things are going well before we start on him. As soon as I see your kidney and things are looking good, then we’ll roll you into the operating room.
Before we had good medicines to prevent rejection, we thought brothers and sisters were the best donors. But actually we found over the last 10 years that the best results actually come from spouses. That spouses are such great donors because there’s an incentive for the person getting the kidney to take a little better care of that kidney. We are very strong advocates for spousal donation.
Dolores: Are you OK?
Dave: Uh-huh. Are you?
Tammy: With Dolores, we’re going to make a small incision near the belly button where the camera goes in, and then make an incision down below where the kidney is removed.
Dr. Browne: Dr. Vapnek takes the kidney out laparoscopically. Should I bring him in the room?
Tammy: She has seen what the kidney failure has done to him and she just wants the old Dave back.
OR Nurse: This is Dave.
Tammy: For his surgery, we’re going to leave his old kidneys in because they’re not infected. So he’s going to have three kidneys.
Dr. Browne: Dr. Vapnek hands me the kidney when it comes out. Then I walk to the other room and put the kidney in.
The chance of the kidney working right away is about 95 percent. All right, how we doing in here? All right, looks pretty good here. Kidney?
He’ll be in the hospital probably four or five days. By the end of one to two months he basically will be out functioning like a typical person in society.
[The day after surgery. Dolores walking in to Dave’s room. Ends on kiss.]
[two months later]
Dave: Yeah, we talk about sharing thoughts, sharing our heart, well, now we’re sharing kidneys.
Dolores: You do what it takes to, you know, keep somebody that's so important to you in your life.
Dave: I’m so grateful that you’ve given me the gift of life. There’s no way I could ever repay that.