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Two surgeries, one day - Father donates kidney to son

IU Health University Hospital

Two surgeries, one day - Father donates kidney to son

When his son’s kidneys began to fail, Shannon Dobrucki did what most fathers would do – he was tested to see if he was a match.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

Like many teens, Nolan Dobrucki is conservative with his words. He plays outfield on a traveling baseball team, he loves Notre Dame football, and his favorite subject is history. He just started his freshman year at St. Joseph High School in South Bend.

Nolan, who turns 15 in October, also just received a new kidney from his father. On August 4, Nolan was at Riley Hospital for Children in the care of IU Health transplant surgeon Dr. William Goggins. His dad, Shannon Dobrucki, was at IU Health University Hospital in the care of transplant surgeon Dr. John Powelson.

“Nolan’s surgery lasted about five or six hours. By the time he got to surgery, his kidney was functioning at about 10 percent,” said his dad. August 4th marked the start of a new beginning for Nolan. At the age of five he was diagnosed with Severe aplastic anemia (SAA) – a rare disease that causes the bone marrow to not produce enough blood cells for the body. They discovered the disease when Nolan broke out in bruises on his neck and legs.

In 2015 he received a bone marrow transplant that resulted in Atypical hemolytic-uremic syndrome, a disease that causes abnormal blood clots in the small vessels of the kidneys.

Nolan was on kidney dialysis twice – once before his bone transplant and once after.

“When we knew he needed a kidney transplant it was like rock, paper, scissors between me and his mom,” said Dobrucki. In the end, he became his son’s donor. Dobrucki and his wife, Amy, also have a younger daughter, Mya. Through the Make-a-Wish Foundation the family enjoyed a vacation to the Bahamas two years ago.

A month after transplant Dobrucki said Nolan is recovering quicker than his dad.

“Of course he’s a lot younger than me and after all he’s been through this makes a big difference in his overall health,” said Dobrucki. While he was a patient, Nolan said he enjoyed art therapy to pass the time but is glad to be back home. He looks forward to resuming his favorite activities without restrictions – especially baseball.

He’s enjoying a hearty appetite with a taste toward his favorites – burgers, steak, pizza and seafood. And there’s something else he said, “I’m not sure what I want to do when I grow up but with all the time spent in the hospital, I may consider becoming a doctor.”

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If facing end-stage organ failure, a kidney, pancreas, liver, lung, intestine or heart transplant will help you embrace life again.