Fearing said he was heartbroken and reluctant to abandon an organ that had been his only hope for a normal life. But he decided it was the only option that made sense. His sister, too, was crushed but said she didn't hesitate when told her kidney might help someone else.
"I just assumed it's damaged, it's garbage," she said. "The fact that they were able to give it to someone that somehow was able to benefit from it was great."
Gomez was selected because he was a good match. But Gallon said doctors also thought Gomez's medical background would help him understand the complexities. Gomez said he had never heard of reusing transplant organs, and he worried about taking what seemed like damaged goods. But he agreed after the Northwestern team explained the risks and possible benefits.
The removal and retransplant operations took place July 1. Within two days, the transplanted kidney had regained function. Gallon said he is convinced the damage is reversed.
Gomez is taking anti-rejection drugs and is off dialysis. "I finally feel normal," he said. Fearing is back on dialysis and said he is doing OK.
Gallon said it is not uncommon for patients with Fearing's disease to go through more than one transplanted kidney, and he expects Fearing will eventually get another one.
Despite his own misfortune, Fearing said he is "extremely happy about being a part of this medical breakthrough" that might end up helping others.
New England Journal of Medicine: http://www.nejm.org
Organ donation: http://www.unos.org
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