Kidney transplantation is one treatment option for kidney failure. A kidney transplant is a surgical operation in which a person whose own kidneys have failed receives a new kidney to take over the work of cleaning the blood.
Many patients feel a successful kidney transplant provides a better quality of life because it allows for greater freedom, is often associated with increased energy levels, and has a less restrictive diet.
Top 10 Things to Know about Kidney Transplants
Randy Adamsick is no stranger to kidney disease. He and his two brothers were all diagnosed with PKD and all three needed new kidneys in their sixties. Since PKD is hereditary, his options for living kidney donors were pretty limited. His wife was not a match.
“If you don’t have a likely donor in your family, you’re often out of luck. You don’t know where your donor will come from. Don’t hide your diagnosis – spread the word! Do whatever it takes to get the word out about your kidney need.”
And Randy did just that. He began posting calls on Facebook. Despite being very worried for the future, Randy and his family decided to participate in the NKFI’s 2016 Walk for Kidneys. He’d just been added to the transplant waiting list and was scheduled to begin dialysis in the fall.
Randy posted photos from the Walk and mentioned again that he was in need of a kidney donor. Then everything changed. Dan Appleby, Randy’s college friend he hadn’t seen in over 20 years, volunteered! Dan and Randy were a perfect match and on September 29, 2016, Dan’s kidney became Randy’s.
Randy says, “It’s a lot to ask of someone and it takes an unusual kind of person. We were friends but we hadn’t spoken in 20 years. He stepped up and gave me my life back. Can see his grandkids grow up, think about retiring. It’s just astounding.”
The friends have rekindled their friendship and have now teamed up to spread the word about living donation through the Organ Donor Advocacy Project. Their goal is to target those who participate in extreme sports to get them excited about saving lives and continuing to pursue their health. Read more about taking the Ultimate Challenge here.
Read more about Randy and Dan’s story here.
When Donna Johnson was just 25, she was diagnosed with FSGS. Her nephrologist told her she would likely need a transplant within the next four to five years. Twenty-seven years later, her kidneys were finally ready for dialysis or a transplant. Since Donna is one of eight children, it made sense to search among her seven siblings for a suitable donor. Out of all seven siblings, none were a good match. Donna assumed she'd put her name on the Illinois transplant list and bide her time.
Enter her son Josh. Josh called Donna's hospital, St. Francis in Peoria, and began the testing process. He was a perfect match! Fortunately, Josh did not carry the FSGS gene and his children did not test positive for it, either so the transplant could proceed.
On June 27, 2011, Josh's right kidney became Donna's. The kidney started functioning immediately. A mere six to eight hours post surgery, Donna was up and visited Josh's recovery room. Josh says, "Her color was better, she was energetic. She was the mom from years ago."
"I didn't know how sick I was until I got my new kidney. Recovery was very uneventful!" Donna says, looking back on the diary she kept throughout her kidney journey. She followed up with her nephrologist every six months after the transplant and now sees her only once a year, "I'm my nephrologist's most boring patient now!"
Just six months after her transplant, Donna ran the Christie Clinic 5k in Champaign. Josh feels great, too. "Your life doesn't change at all [after donation] other than a scar. I just drink more water now to keep my remaining kidney healthy." The pair put together a Team Kidney team for the 5k this year and have worked hard to raise money and awareness around living donation and kidney health. "There are so many lives on the transplant list that could be saved by living donors. That's why we got custom license plates!" Donna and her son say their biggest hope is to inspire others to give and to take away the fear surrounding living donation by being living success stories.
City: Crest Hill, IL
Date of transplant: Dec. 21, 2006
Who was your donor? A young lady named Amanda; she tragically lost her life at an early age but knew she wanted to be and organ/tissue donor.
What was your original diagnosis? Glomerulonephritis
What was it like getting a kidney transplant? The thought of a kidney transplant was frightening at first. But from the moment I arrived on the transplant floor for surgery, I knew everything would be okay. This peace of mind was given to me by the nursing staff, their support staff, as well as my doctors and surgeons during pre-op preparations.
How has your transplant affected your life? I was born again, and we celebrate my gift of life and new birthday every December 21. This was my second chance at life, and, not taking anything for granted, I try to give back whenever and where ever I can, encouraging organ/tissue donation because I strongly believe that what you give lives on.
City: Champaign, IL
Date of transplant: Nov. 18, 2011
Who was your donor? An unrelated six year old who had passed away.
What was your original diagnosis? Wildly unchecked high blood pressure
What was it like getting a kidney transplant? Extraordinary. Amazing. Emotional. Transformational. Humbling. Spiritual. It's the kind of event that literally divides your life in half: BT ("Before Transplant") and AT ("After Transplant"). To be freed from dialysis, the ability to lead a relatively "normal" life again, the realization that transplantation has been a viable surgical procedure only since the 1950s – it all makes you appreciate how fortunate and blessed we are to be living in these phenomenal times.
How has your transplant affected your life? How hasn’t it changed my life? It has […] made me a vigorous advocate for ESRD patients and organ donation and prompted me to join several patient advisory committees throughout the Midwest […]. It also has given me significantly more energy and stamina, improved my overall quality of life and deepened my spiritual journey. Because I believe a successful kidney transplant is nothing short of a miracle!
Transplant Centers in Illinois
Advocate Christ Medical Center
4440 West 95th Street, Oak Lawn, IL 60453
advocatehealth.com | (708) 684-7100
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
Siragusa Transplantation Center
225 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611
luriechildrens.org | (312) 227-4000
Loyola University Medical Center
2160 South 1st Avenue, Maywood, IL 60153
loyolamedicine.org | (888) 584-7888
Memorial Medical Center
The Alan G. Birtch, MD, Center for Transplant Services
701 North 1st Street, Springfield, IL 62781
memorialmedical.com | (217) 788-3000
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
The Kovler Organ Transplantation Center
201 East Huron Street #12-105, Chicago, IL 60611
nmh.com | (312) 926-3627
OSF Saint Francis Hospital
530 Northeast Glen Oak Avenue, Peoria, IL 61637
osfsaintfrancis.org | (309) 655-2000
Rush University Medical Center
1653 West Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60612
rush.edu | (312) 942-5000
The University of Chicago Medical Center
5841 South Maryland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637
uchospitals.edu | (773) 702-1000
University Of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System
1855 West Taylor Street, Suite 1077, Chicago, IL 60612
uillinois.edu | (312) 996-8330
Map of all transplant centers in Illinois:
View transplant centers in a larger map