April 25th, 2013 | It’s one of the leading medical issues of our time: human donor organs are in extremely short supply, while nearly 20 Americans die daily waiting for a life-saving transplant. So, why aren’t more people giving the gift of life through organ donation? In many cases, family members aren’t even aware of the potential donor’s decision,… Continue Reading
Ramonie’s Story: Immune System Disorder/ Kidney Transplant
When she was only 20 months old, Ramonie Smith was diagnosed with a rare immune system disorder. This disease, called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), has no cure and experts are unaware of the cause. Despite the efforts that her family and the hospital took to treat the FSGS, it caused her body to lose dangerous amounts of protein, retain fluid, and be more susceptible to infection. In fact, her grandmother, Brenda Sharpe, said Ramonie had 13 different life-threatening infections in her bloodstream before she received a kidney transplant.
Her health problems persisted so that by age 3 she suffered from kidney failure and had to be on dialysis for eight hours every single day. This intense treatment lasted for two years until a donor kidney became available. In 2007, Ramonie received a kidney transplant, but the FSGS returned just three days after her kidney transplant procedure. In an attempt to rid her body of the disease, doctors began a treatment in which they replaced her blood with healthy blood. Thankfully, the treatment proved successful and Ramonie has been in remission since then.
Ramonie's family thanks the exceptional doctors, nurses and hospital staff who cared for Ramonie as she underwent all of these problems. Ramonie herself calls Dr. Goggins, one of her transplant surgeons, "My hero." Her mom, Melissa Smith Jones, described the dedication of the hospital staff by explaining, "They laugh with you, cry with you, support you during your triumphs and go above and beyond to love your family and your child."
Ramonie is now able to live the life of a normal eight year old, free from medical restrictions. She said, “I was sick for a very long time. Now I can play and go to school and slumber parties.” Ramonie loves life and is grateful for her transplant.
Guadalupe’s Story: Spina Bifida/ Kidney Transplant
Sylvia Galeno has given life to her daughter, Guadalupe Dominquez Galeno, two times: first, she gave birth to Guadalupe; and then, she gave her a second chance at life by giving Guadalupe one of her kidneys.
Guadalupe's health problems began at birth. She was born not only with spina bifida but also with dysplastic kidneys, which means that one of her kidneys did not form well and cysts grew around it. Surgeons removed the damaged kidney in 2006, during an operation in which they reconstructed her bladder. However, Guadalupe continued to face health challenges as her remaining kidney began to lose function. After her kidney completely failed, she had to be put on dialysis until she received a transplant. This was not an easy treatment for Guadalupe; dialysis meant a round-trip journey of 300 miles on three days each week.
After nearly one year of this treatment, Sylvia was able to give one of her kidneys to her daughter. It can be a nerve-wracking situation for a family to have both the mother and daughter in surgery simultaneously. But Guadalupe's father, Eugilio, felt grateful for the trust he put in these surgeons. “I don’t have the words to thank Riley Hospital. Guadalupe's surgery went well and her life has continued to go well. She is enjoying school and spending time with her friends.”
Lauren’s Story: Biliary Atresia/ Multi-organ Transplant
When she was born with her twin brother Owen, Lauren Seiders appeared to be in good health, despite some jaundice. Although jaundice is quite common in newborns, Lauren's parents began to worry when hers never cleared up. At three months old her blood tests revealed liver problems and Lauren was diagnosed with biliary atresia. The under-developed bile ducts caused by the biliary atresia damaged her liver, and she received her first liver transplant at 14 months old. However, after this transplant, Lauren's problems continued. Two weeks later, in her seventh surgery of the two weeks, she received her second liver transplant.
Lauren's remarkable story does not even end with two liver transplants. After the multiple surgeries, she developed a condition called frozen abdomen in which her abdominal organs adhered to one another. This, together with other complications, resulted in the need of an intense operation that involved transplanting six organs. On December 8, 2008 Lauren received two new kidneys as well as a multivisceral transplant, which includes a new stomach, liver, pancreas, and small intestine. Even after the successful transplant, Lauren continued her battle for good health as she faced lymphoma and then an incarcerated hernia. Still, she fought on.
With the help of a devoted family and a dedicated medical staff, today, Lauren is thriving. She attends preschool and loves playing with her two brothers.
Annika’s Story: Cancer/ Multi-organ Transplant
The remarkable story of Annika Wampler stems not from an organ transplant, but instead from the doctors' ability to help her avoid an organ transplant. As a baby, a large tumor formed in Annika's abdomen, but the attempts to shrink the tumor through chemotherapy proved fruitless. After these efforts failed, doctors advised that surgically removing the tumor was the most viable option. However, the size of the tumor and its proximity to so many vital abdominal organs made the operation much more complex. In case of complications caused by removing the tumor, the operating surgeons needed to be prepared to perform a multivisceral transplant.
Because the surgeons had the capability to give Annika any organ that she would need, they were able to take aggressive action against the tumor and fully remove it. After some subsequent chemotherapy to ensure that her body was rid of cancer, Annika is cancer-free and doing well.
Keona’s Story: Reduced Kidney Function/ Kidney Transplant
Keona Shearer was born with her twin sister, Elliona, on May 19, 2004, but only three months after their birth, Elliona passed away due to a heart condition. Five months later, when Keona was just 8 months old, she too began to have health problems, suffering from dehydration and flu-like symptoms. Keona's kidneys were failing. After being cared for at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, the nurses there taught her parents, Justin and Jessica Shearer, how to perform the peritoneal dialysis for their daughter. Her parents did this dialysis for her three times per day from the time that she left the hospital until she was 2 years old. By that age, Keona no longer depended on dialysis. Instead, they were able to treat her kidney problems with medications and good nutrition.
Three years later, at the age of 5, Keona needed a kidney transplant for her failing kidneys. Miraculously, both of her parents were matches for Keona. On Dec. 1, 2009 surgeons transplanted Justin Shearer’s kidney into his daughter. Now, she is doing well and enjoying school.
David’s Story: Bowel Infection/ First Indiana Small Bowel Transplant
David Peck is tough. He was a healthy toddler, besides a slight problem with gastroesophageal reflux disease. However, a few months before his third birthday, in June of 2003, he woke up from a nap pale, lethargic, and vomiting. His mother, Traci, hurried him to the emergency room where doctors treated him for dehydration. After noticing his dangerously high heart rate and blood sugar levels, an ambulance rushed him to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.
Within 12 hours of waking up from his nap, David was in the operating room. Emergency surgery revealed a portion of David's bowel that had become twisted and full of gangrene. The surgeon expressed little hope to Traci and Chip Peck, saying that they might only have him for another 48 hours. Doing what they could, surgeons removed all of his small bowel and one-third of his large bowel. Meanwhile, the Pecks asked about the option of an organ transplant and the surgeon called to various transplant hospitals to research that possibility. Incredibly, an IU Health Transplant surgeon who had heard of their plight stopped by the Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health on his way home from work to talk to them. "Dr. Joe Tector was our angel," Traci explains. "He answered our questions about transplant and gave us the information we needed."
Even while he was sick, David always resisted pampering. After he was discharged, his parents went directly to IU Health University Hospital to meet with a transplant coordinator. Following four weeks of preliminary testing, David was listed for a transplant on Friday, July 18. On Monday, July 21, their coordinator called to tell them that an organ was available. David did not cry at all when the nurse took him from his parents to go to his surgery and on July 22, David Peck became the first person in Indiana to receive a small bowel transplant.
After receiving his transplant, David healed and has been blessed in good health. Now 11 years old, he loves playing baseball, basketball and football. Everyone in the family has become a strong advocate for organ donation and transplant, and Traci even began work recently at the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization (IOPO). In Traci's perspective, they were given a beautiful gift and now it is their great blessing to help others.
SaDeris’s Story: Enlarged Heart/ Heart Transplant
We often say that people who are especially kind have big hearts. In the case of SaDeria Cheatem, this statement applied to her from birth, not only because of her sweetness but also in a more literal way. SaDeria was born with an enlarged heart. Her heart also had a hole in the left ventricle. In order to treat her condition until the hole could be fixed, her pediatric cardiologist treated her with medication. This continued until she was two, and then surgeons repaired the hole.
Although the surgery was successful, eight years later SaDerias heart failed, and she suffered from a cardiac arrest. Thankfully, her mother was nearby and performed CPR on her daughter to save her. After this frightening episode, surgeons implanted a defibrillator in SaDeria's heart. This helped her for a few years, but she began having problems again two years later, when she was 12 years old. After she experienced two blood clots in her heart, doctors advised that SaDeria needed a heart transplant.
While she waited for a donor heart, surgeons implanted a ventricular assist device (VAD) into her heart to increase the blood flow in her body with a mechanical pump. Even though doctors insisted that SaDeria needed a new heart, she was scared and did not want a transplant. After her mom explained its necessity, SaDeria finally agreed to a transplant, and two months later a donor heart became available.