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Very special guests honored at celebration

Very special guests honored at celebration

The IU Health Abdominal Transplant Team recently celebrated the success of the past year and honored transplant heroes.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, TJ Banes,

On a recent weekday, Beckett Culp, 4, took a break from giving spontaneous hugs, and sat at a table creating a painted piece of art. He was joined at the art table by IU Health’s Dr. Jonathan Fridell, chief of abdominal transplantation and surgical director of IU Health pancreas transplant.

Beckett Culp creating art

For just a few minutes, Beckett was a typical child, but soon he would climb on a stool to take his place at a podium. His audience was an auditorium filled with physicians, nurses, social workers, rehabilitation therapists, and other IU Health transplant team members.

The group gathered for an annual program celebrating the accomplishments of the abdominal transplant program.

One of those shining stars was Beckett, who attended the program with his parents Klark and Lauren Culp of Noblesville. Six months ago, IU Health surgeon Dr. Richard Mangus performed a liver transplant on Beckett. He has also been in the care of pediatric hepatologist, Dr. Jean Molleston.

“He doesn’t know a stranger,” his mother told the audience. He worked the room giving hugs and sharing his candy. Beckett was listed for transplant in February 2022 when he was diagnosed with Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AAT). The inherited condition causes damage to the liver and lungs.

“He remained in the hospital 11 days and by day five he was running the halls of Riley Hospital,” said his mom. “We’re so grateful to Dr. Mangus and Dr. Molleston, and his transplant coordinator Angi Dickens” As Lauren Culp spoke, photos appeared of Beckett wearing a homemade turkey hat at Thanksgiving, and unloading the goods from his birthday toy drive at Riley Hospital.

When he spoke to his audience of caregivers he said just three words: “Thank you, everybody.”

IU Health is one of the leading transplant hospitals in the nation. More than about 500 transplants are performed annually. Despite the challenges of a pandemic, in 2021, IU Health’s transplant program made up 83 percent of all transplants performed throughout the state. As of November 2022, IU Health had performed 222 kidney transplants, 149 liver transplants, 19 pancreas transplants, and nine intestinal transplants. Additionally, IU Health’s thoracic transplant team had performed 12 heart transplants and 25 lung transplants.

“My transplant team is like my family,” said Samantha Croymans, who attended the celebration with her son, Max Croymans, 7, and her boyfriend, Brian Moreman. She was in the care of Dr. Fridell when she underwent a kidney and pancreas transplant in 2018. She had battled issues with diabetes for more than 20 years and was pregnant with her son when she faced kidney failure. She was on dialysis for nearly three years before receiving her transplant.

“I am happy and also sad for the passing of my donor,” said Croymans. “I think about all I would have missed out on without a transplant - trips to the zoo, watching my son grow up. He is my rock and I am thankful every day to a team who helped me live to be the mother of my son.”

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