Transplant Recipient Going Strong

SEPTEMBER 2001 - Able To Meet Donor Family - When
we last visited with Association member Tom Kent at his Roslindale home
in 1995, he was still recovering from a kidney transplant operation
that had occurred that September. Kent, a state retiree from the
Auditor’s office, had been suffering from renal disease since the
mid-80s.

By the spring of 1992, the
disease had progressed to the point where Kent was forced to retire.
After logging more than 1,500 hours on a kidney dialysis machine in
Westwood, the call came in that a 63 year old woman had passed away and
had donated her organs. Fate would have it that the kidney was a match
and within hours Kent was in an operating room at Brigham and Women’s.

Nearly
six years after the transplant, Kent, 68, has returned to a very active
lifestyle. He and his wife Lorraine have been traveling across the
country, visiting friends and seeing new sights.

“I
feel great! My kidney seems to be working fine and I am able to be as
active as I choose to be. I just feel very fortunate to have come
through this illness,” says Kent. “The only problem I am having is a
reoccurrence of various skin cancers and lesions. I need to visit the
dermatologist every three months.”

The
anti-rejection drugs Kent must take to prevent his body from attacking
the new kidney suppresses his immune system to the point where the skin
cancers easily develop. His doctors are in the process of modifying his
drug regimen to reduce the occurrence of the skin problems.

“Changing
my drugs around has me a little concerned,” said Kent. “So far, my body
has reacted very well to the new kidney. My doctor plans to monitor my
condition very closely as they change my drugs around.”

Grateful To Donor

One
of Kent’s wishes after receiving his new kidney was to contact and
hopefully meet with the family of the donor. He wanted a way to thank
the family of the woman who had just saved his life, as she lost her
own.

“Eventually, I did hear from
the family and had a chance to meet the donor’s sister. The two sisters
had been very close, so as you can imagine, we had a very emotional
meeting. It was good for me to learn a little bit about her and I think
it helped the sister to meet me. Over the past couple of years we have
drifted apart though.”

Kent learned
that the donor not only left her kidney, but also donated her eyes and
skin to others in need. After the donor suffered a life ending
aneurysm, the family informed the doctors of her wishes to donate her
organs. While not an officially listed donor, it had been a belief that
she had discussed with her sister.

As
modern medicine continues to amaze us, Tom Kent can expect to live a
full and rewarding life. While doctors cannot predict the future, many
transplant recipients have lived well over 20 years with no further
kidney problems.

“You cannot go
through life waiting for something bad to happen. Right now I am fine
and have no reason to think that will change. I’m just happy to be
living a happy healthy life again,” comments Kent.

“I
realize that there are other members of our Association who have had
transplants, including at least two successful heart transplants,” said
Trish Igo, who is one of our Group Insurance Commission
representatives. “At this time, with his cooperation, we chose to share
Tom Kent’s life since his 1995 transplant and from time-to-time will
share those of others.”

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