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A brief history of kidney transplant in Arizona with Ed Ozier

Ed has seen a few things in his life. He has served in Vietnam, got his bachelor’s and graduate degrees, and married the love of his life. He has had so many beautiful life moments to share over his lifetime. He has also had a very surreal timeline running parallel to these moments. He lived with kidney disease in a time that a kidney transplant went from science fiction to reality.

It all started with a bad case of gout, or that is what Ed attributed his pain to. He began getting the attacks in high school off and on. The attacks continued but stayed the same through his time in the Army. He had an added problem of poor eyesight, which he recognized right away in basic training when he couldn’t hit his targets. This turned out to be keratoconus, which is an added indicator of kidney disease. Upon an exit medical exam from the army, Ed was told that he had high blood pressure and albumin in the urine (an indicator of liver/kidney dysfunction), but there was no follow up required; thank you for your service.

After finishing military service in Vietnam, Ed was married to his wife Linda and finished graduate studies at Northern Arizona University. When a terrible gout attack left him nearly immobile, he became very concerned. He is thankful that he was young and skinny, or else his wife wouldn’t have been able to have helped him to the doctor.

His local doctor realized Ed’s condition was out of his scope and referred him to a kidney doctor in Phoenix. He advised him to leave immediately and that his condition needed prompt attention. Ed was disappointed because he was 16 days away from graduating, but he went anyway.

After making his way to Phoenix, he met up with his nephrologist, one of Phoenix’s first in the 1970s. He had his appointment and a whole lot of lab tests. The conclusion was that his kidneys were in terrible shape and that he was very sick. His kidney doctor notified him that he was on dialysis as of that moment.

This is what Ed considers to be the true beginning of his transplant journey. At the old Northwest hospital on 59th and Northern. It was the early 80’s now, and he was a regular at the dialysis center. He went three days a week after closing his business for the night. The staff there tried to make things fun because most spent quite a bit of time there. Every Wednesday night, they would watch the TV show Dallas together. The regulars would have time to catch up on their lives and support one another. Reality would set in when they noticed that someone would stop showing up. It was sometimes a sign of improving health or a transplant, but it was often a sign of decline or worse.

Ed, like so many others, immediately began the search for a living donor. His mother wasn’t a match for him but was for his sister, who was also burdened with kidney disease. And so, he was placed on the waiting list. He had a couple of false alarms of donors who didn’t end up being a match. But finally, the day came when his surgeon told him to prepare because they finally had a match. Ed remembers his surgeon with much reverence and respect. Dr. Van der Werf moved to the United States in the late sixties and established the Netherlands, Florida, and Arizona’s original kidney transplant programs.

His transplanted kidney was good and true for 14 years. In the last 3 of those 14 years, he noticed a slow decline in function. It was time to go on the list again. But this time, with a high antibody count, which worked against him on the waiting list. He also had different symptoms, one being pericarditis, which causes fluid and inflammation around the heart. Once the pericarditis was diagnosed, he began dialysis again. Except for this time, it was a journey of 54 months, or 4 and a half years, on dialysis. In those days, few people got transplants at all. But even less so that was highly sensitized. After his long wait, he was rewarded with a second (or third in Ed’s case) chance at life. He remembers waking up and being clear-headed for the first time in years. And with the meds not being novel and more streamlined, he didn’t have the same side effects from the immunosuppressants and steroids as the first time around.

This second transplant also stayed true for another 14 years. And the same as the previous time in the last 3 of those years, his numbers declined again. This time they were using IVIG to counter high antibodies. Plus, he had a former graft get infected. There were so many surgeries. But luckily for him, the new rules came out regarding kidney transplants. A CRPA (Calculated Panel Reactive Antibodies) calculator helped kidney patients get priority on the waiting list. This time he was on the list 9 months before he needed dialysis. Another 9 weeks of dialysis before he got his call. And that is the kidney he is thriving with until this very day, his fourth chance at life.

These days Ed looks forward to his advocacy work with the AAKP, time with his Transplant Team Arizona teammates, and most importantly, valued time with his family. He talks about how he got to go to Washington DC with the AAKP (he is a lifetime member) and advocate for some of the current kidney legislation making it’s way to the Senate. He found the representatives there to be very helpful overall.

Having a genetic link with his father with kidney disease, he decided to get into his family’s genealogy. He found links in every generation back that he had researched, showing nearly a hundred years of his family surviving with kidney disease, but never for very long.
He feels fortunate to be thriving with his siblings in this day and age, where medical advances can overcome such things.

The best advice for new transplant patients is to educate yourself. Your doctor may tell you things, but in the end, you are in charge of your care with the educated guidance of your medical staff. Make sure to speak up and be part of the medical team.

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427 days waiting, a Berlin heart, and a new lease on life.

By Melissa McQueen.

When this interview was conducted, it was in Spring 2020, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kim and her son Liam are in Montreal. Kim’s son had just been interviewed for the local news station. His message for the reporter was clear, his normal was now everyone else’s normal. He says that if you are stuck at home and confined, don’t worry about it, transplant recipients do this all the time. He acted well beyond his 8 years as an advocate for his community in the interview, encouraging others to stay home because the virus was potentially dangerous to those that immune suppressed. The Morris family currently lives in the province that has been the hardest hit in Canada.

Liam has been interviewed quite often and is known throughout the province and the country. As most transplant kids, they are a celebrity in their own right.

When Kim’s son was born he looked like any other baby. One day, while at daycare, he started feeling nauseous and overall unwell. She would bring him to the clinic every time and every time they would tell her it was a stomach bug and that he needed rest and to stay hydrated. Eventually Kim got sick and tired of the repetitive diagnosis and took him to the Emergency Room of Montreal’s children’s hospital. Right away the cardiologist came to look at him and ordered an echocardiogram. He came back saying that her son was very ill and that treatment would be a long process. The team assured her they would do everything they could to save him. It was very much an overnight situation of having a healthy child to one that is near death.

For the first 6 months they thought he had myocarditis. They initially thought he had a virus. But then the diagnosis came back as Dilated Cardiomyopathy of the Left Ventricle. He also had very violent ventricular arrhythmias. He was put on almuturon right away. There were more genetic test done. Liam has three genetic mutations. LMNA gene is the first mutation. This can also be the cause of muscular dystrophy. They couldn’t stabilize him and they were losing him. Liam was quickly placed on the Berlin heart. The Berlin heart beats for the heart giving it a chance to rest. He spent a full year on the Berlin heart. They were in the hospital a total of 427 days. During this time he had 2 strokes, one pump malfunction and finally transplant in July of 2018.

Liam was in the hospital for 10 days after transplant. For the entire time he was there he told everyone that he was getting his heart for his birthday. When he was released after transplant it was on his birthday. The first thing they did after discharge, was go to a 5 star restaurant in Montreal so that he could have lobster, king crab and Rockefeller oysters and crepes suzette for dessert. The restaurant treated him to the whole nine yards. That night when Kim tucked Liam into bed she was starting to reflect to Liam and she said, “What a nightmare we have just been through.” Liam stopped her and said “Mom this isn’t a nightmare. Usually in nightmares people die. Nightmare’s don’t end well”. Her favorite souvenir was to tuck him into his own bed.

Now Liam is back to his fun loving self. It took a long time. Immediately after they were so burnt out and tired. This summer is the first time that he is feeling back to his normal self.

In the future, Liam aspires to be a surgeon and tries to get the best marks he can. He is is an avid reader. He rides his bike and plays tennis with his mother. He almost associates high blood pressure that comes with exercise with heart failure. But he is learning to overcome that with time.

Families tend to fall into one bucket or another. What doesn’t break you makes you stronger. You definitely value life more. Sometimes life can be difficult but you move beyond those challenges to live your best life.

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Champion at Heart, From Heart Failure to 5k.

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By Melissa McQueen.

Most of Samuel’s life he felt active and healthy. He enjoyed participating in martial arts and several other sports. In 2018, when things seemed off, he didn’t suspect it was anything more than a cold.

On February 7th he woke up to a startling surprise. The left side of his face was drooping, and his speech was slurred. He could not move the left side of his body at all. When his mother saw what was happening, she knew something was terribly wrong and called 911. When he got to the hospital, they ran 2 CAT Scans and they told him he was having a stroke.

His physicians decided to perform an embolectomy, which is when they went through his arm to his brain to suction out the blood clot. When he woke, he was able to move his left side again and he felt a great relief. The doctors then explained that they looked a little further into his situation, being that having a stroke at 16 is rare, and they found that he had a serious heart condition. They then sent him to Le Bonheur Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee because they were better equipped to handle Sam’s heart condition. When he got there, he was immediately moved to the CVICU and the cardiologists explained to him that he had cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart). Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle leading to decreased function. It was pumping so inefficiently that fluid was starting to build up in his lungs. They suspect the cardiomyopathy in place since birth and built over a lifetime to cause the stroke.

Two days later, things went from bad to worse. His short-term memory was beginning to fail, and his mother and staff would have to tell him information repeatedly. His heart rate was increasingly going up and he was constantly nauseous. When his heart rate reached a max of 238 BPM (beats per minute) he was shocked with the defibrillator three time to help reset his heart. He remembers being shocked the third time and jolting forward with a vision of a room full of doctors. One doctor was desperately asking him to wake up on the final shock. After this the whole room getting darker and then going back to sleep, but in reality, his heart had actually stopped. He was then placed on an emergency bypass called ECMO (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation) to get his heart and lungs to work again. When stabilized, his medical team were able to put an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) in to help assist his heart pump normally again. His physicians advised the best treatment going forward being a heart transplant and that this LVAD would help bridge him to heart transplant.

He came from a very strong church community. When he needed help, his mom went to church and asked her congregation to pray for her son. Thankfully, he didn’t have to wait long. February 16, 2018 he got the call and received his gift of life.

Some of his favorite moment’s inpatient were with his physical therapist. His therapists knew he was an athlete and wanted to get him back to that condition again. Which they did eventually accomplish. His most exciting moment post-transplant was in September when he ran a 5k with his OT and PT and their spouses and kids. He ran 3 5ks in the first-year post transplant Samuel still runs today and competes in 5k’s.

His proudest achievement is going to college. After being homeschooled his entire school career he was unsure if he could do it. But after getting his heart, he felt a renewed sense of purpose and decided to take his ACTs and did very well. He then applied and was accepted into the University of Memphis. His focus is to go to law school, and he is starting with his philosophy degree. Samuel’s best piece of advice for those waiting, get a support group and lean on your family to help you during this very difficult time. Never hide how you are feeling. Find as many people to talk to as you can to help you feel even a little bit normal. A support group that will stay with you and fight you the whole way is very important.

Thank you, Samuel, for being an incredible inspiration to so many!!

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Transplant recipient to transplant clinician.

Transplant Clinician

It all started when Brett was a sophomore in high school. Brett was in great shape, diligently going to the gym and preparing to try out for the upcoming high school baseball season. Life was as typical as it can be for any sophomore in high school.

In mid December 2013, he and his father were walking to AutoZone for a car part. Brett’s chest felt tight and he could not breath. Little did he know it was because his heart was increasingly enlarged due to an undiagnosed case of dilated cardiomyopathy. His parents were becoming very concerned. The first week of winter break he went to the hospital and staff noticed his resting heart rate was 148 beats per minute. He was taken to x-ray and saw that his heart was 3 times the size that a normal heart should be. There was an ambulance that transported him to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. When his wheelchair had gotten him to the CVICU he was surrounded by staff putting in IV’s, prepping medication to help him, someone starting an echocardiogram, and finally another putting leads on his head. He described the on flux of medical personal as like a swarm of bees surrounding him. Within 30 minutes of arrival they began discussing the possibility of a heart transplant with him and his family. This was the 19th of December. A week later, he was still inpatient and progressively getting worse. This is when physicians started talking to him about putting in a Ventricular Assist Device or an artificial heart. They said this could help his heart rest and possibly even heal his heart. On December 31st they put in the device (a Heartmate) to help his left ventricle.

This helped give his heart a break because it was under so much stress. Doctors knew that because his heart was in such serious condition, that even with the VAD he would still eventually need a transplant. He asked if he could go home and be on the VAD. He felt like the staff had done an excellent job educating him and he wanted to be the first pediatric patient in Phoenix to be discharged on an LVAD. They agreed and because PCH is a standalone pediatric hospital, they worked in partnership with the Mayo Clinic of Phoenix to follow outpatient care for Brett and his LVAD from home. He went from January to the end of March at home successfully on his LVAD. At this time, he really focused on physical therapy and recovery. He did light weight training and lots of walking to get his body in the best shape possible for transplant.

In March, Brett and his family received “the call” for his gift of life. His transplant nurse told him to be ready and to the hospital at 4 am. He admits being nervous and having his mind race at all the possibilities. When he got his chlorhexidine wipes and his final consent for surgery is when Brett took 15 minutes to pause and make sure it was in fact the right decision. Quite a decision for a sixteen-year-old, but his answer was clear. As soon as he signed consent, he was wheeled back for anesthesia and surgery and the rest is history.

Brett just had his yearly checkup with Mayo Clinic in Phoenix this past Monday. They had him doing a stress test in August and he is due for an angiogram next year. He is very healthy today.

Today Brett’s greatest achievement is going through college and he looks forward to receiving his bachelor’s degree next year. He is currently finishing up an internship with Donor Network Arizona. He very much looks forward to helping other pediatric transplant recipients from a social work and a first-person perspective. His philosophy is to help guide and not lecture so that patients come up with the resilience and guide themselves with positive knowledge to healing.

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Transplant gives new lease on life.

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Irene

Double lung transplant recipients Irene Marra, Allison Stokes and Deb Lofgreen being honored at a Diamondbacks game in 2019.

Prior to her lung transplant, Irene Marra had only 14 percent lung capacity due to autoimmune COPD inherited from her family. Irene could only walk around her house and out to her mailbox box without having to stop and catch her breath. She thought she would not be not a candidate for a life-saving lung transplant, but thankfully she did qualify. She was put on the transplant waitlist on Friday and was called on the following Tuesday to go to St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center, part of the Dignity Health family, that there was a lung donor waiting for her. 

Her transplant took place on June 17, 2015 and has given Irene’s life purpose in immeasurable ways. She is extremely grateful for St. Joseph’s medical team and her donor. She feels like she has a second chance in life, and she’s using her second chance to help other transplant recipients transition to their new way of life. 

Irene feels its vitally important to educate the public so they know how important and life-changing organ donation can be. When speaking to potential organ donors she would ask them “Would you like to be a hero? Do you know your organs live on? Do you know you can’t take them with you! Please sign up and be an organ and tissue donor please.” 

 

A few years ago while attend a transplant support group meeting, Irene met Deb Lofgreen, a fellow double-lung transplant recipient and soon-to-be mentor. Deb ask her if she would like to participate in the Transplant Games of America. Since then she has become an active participant in the Games and with the local team members. She has been to two US games and one World Transplant Games in the UK in 2019. She hopes to participate in the upcoming Games in New Jersey and Houston. In order to prepare, Irene practices bowling and track and field. Her favorite event is bowling, as she’s a IPA wannabe league member. Irene wants to win medals, of course, and her ultimate goal is to meet participates outside of Arizona. 

As well as sponsoring Irene at the World Transplant Games, St. Joseph’s sponsored the inaugural 2019 Arizona Transplant Games in Chandler. As part of St. Joseph’s follow-up care for their transplant patients, they emphasize a daily exercise regimen to stay healthy after their transplant. The doctors, nurses, and social workers of St. Joe’s supported the AZ Games as a important community effort to keep transplant patients at their best. 

Thank you Irene for always raising organ donor awareness and being a integral part of Transplant Team Arizona. 

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Chain of Love. A Story of Living Donation.

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In Spring of 2008, Michelle and Tom Fulcher were enjoying being newlyweds when Michelle first decided to be tested to be a possible kidney donor. Her husband Tom had been dealing with CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) for a lifetime. It was inherited and many of his siblings suffered with CKD as well.

After going through the test program involved in being a living donor, Michelle learned she wasn’t blood compatible with her husband. They decided to look into a procedure called paired donation. Kidney Paired Donation, or KPD, also known as a kidney exchange, gives that transplant candidate another option. In KPD, living donor kidneys are swapped with different recipients so each recipient receives a compatible transplant.

In late June 2008, Michelle got her chance to be a part of a KPD. The chain started with a couple of friends, one from California and one from Arizona. They weren’t a match, however the friends felt so strongly about living donation that they reached out to the Banner transplant center. The donor offered to give her kidney in exchange that her friend might be able to receive a kidney. They were not a match either. So the paired exchange began to build. In order to make this situation viable, the transplant center trying to find matches for multiple recipients that weren’t matched with their donor in what is sometimes called a domino transplant. When a donor/recipient of this group dropped out for health reasons, Michelle’s husband was next in line to complete the chain of transplants. She was able to give to a stranger, and her husband was able to receive from a stranger because they were part of a chain of altruistic living donors. The chain that they were involved in had 12 donors and 11 recipients. Their particular chain was the longest in Arizona history.

Since then, Michelle and Tom have done a lot of interviews for media, serve as mentors, and support legislation and advocacy on getting information out to people about living donor-ship. They help new kidney families with questions they might have to help make them more comfortable with the procedure. She advises, if you have questions and you can’t donate you can still be an advocate. If you have questions and you can donate, then you can save a life. There are new advancements happening all the time. Even right now there is immune suppression legislation in congress that you can help with. Making your opinions known to your state senator could help with making sure immunosuppression medication remains covered by Medicare and that living donors are taken care of after their life sustaining gift. Visit power2.save.org to find out more on advocacy.

If you are thinking, how do I start this living donation process because I want to save a life? The first thing you would do would be to contact a transplant team or a local nephrologist. Michelle advises to do your research. Questions like, will insurance cover this, or will FMLA cover time off as a donor which are very real items of concern and worth mentioning. Another question to ask is “What are the local hospitals involved in this procedure?” The research you do can help you form questions that you can then give to your nephrologist (hepatologist for live and pulmonologist for lung) a list of questions to discuss.

Every two years she goes back to have her kidney function monitored to that she can see she is still in good shape. She is continuously monitored as a living donor because it helps physicians understand how to best support living donors in the future.

Michelle’s favorite part is sharing. And of course getting to spend so many more years with her husband. She feels an obligation to share the amazing life they’ve had as a result of living donorship.

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Living life to its fullest, through CHD, heart transplant and beyond

When first meeting Evie, you can’t help but notice her warm smile, willingness to help others, and overall exuberance for life. You would never guess from her very humble beginnings.

Evie has been dealing with CHD (Congenital Heart Disease) since she was in her early
teens. Diagnosed with Sinus Valsalva aneurysm*1 and requiring emergency surgery to
replace her aortic arch at 14 was just the beginning. She left home with the help of her
school and social work around the same time for her own well-being. Then she survived a
stroke and was also diagnosed with Turner’s Syndrome at age 21. Despite all of this, she still
graduated high school and then college. She went on to lead a very active and normal life.
She was employed as her alma madder’s team manager of both the men’s and women’s
basketball team. Evie went on to hike Lassen Peak, which is a 5-mile hike with an elevation
of 10,463 feet at its peak. Surely a feat for even most heart healthy individuals.

She worked and lived life to its fullest until 1999, when her health problems forced her to slow down. She noticed being incredibly tired and short of breath. Her cardiologist, Dr. Gene Shafton, encouraged her to life her life until things got too bad. He then helped her find a center that would help list her for transplant. She was accepted as an excellent candidate not just for her underlying condition, but for her positive attitude that we all know and appreciate so much. They listed her as a heart candidate even though she didn’t have a designated caregiver which was a requirement of this and many other programs. She remembers the amazing support of her transplant team. Her favorite nurse was Patty Baker, who was always upbeat and would quiz Evie on her medications, dosing, and side effects.

April 16th, 2001, she got the call. When coming out of sedation, she remembered her last dream being of skiing down a mountain. This is surreal considering her donor, Amber, was teaching her siblings to ski when she got in her accident. She doesn’t remember any pain, just an overwhelming sense of appreciation of her new normal. There were no more PVCs *2 and she felt the normal circulation in every part of her body for the first time. Since that day she doesn’t take a moment for granted. She is always grateful for Amber’s family and their honoring her wish to donate.

Evie has battled her worst fear, which is rejection and come out as strong as ever. Now that she has is with the love of her life, Danny, she can care for others in the form of volunteering or advocacy. She gives advice to those younger and dealing with CHD to tell your family when you feel something is wrong and don’t try to hide it. The quicker they can get to a problem the quicker your heart failure team can help you. And to adults she advises to always be your own advocate, get a second opinion if necessary, know your history, and always take notes.

Today Evie’s favorite things to do are to volunteer for the Transplant Community Alliance or the Transplant Games. She loved helping athletes of all ages in the recent inaugural Arizona
Transplant Games. This makes sense since she has always been a helper to many from her
managing days at college all the way to this very day helping transplant athletes. Evie, finds joy in everything, even falling recently while gardening. Those aches and pains reminded her that she was so fortunate to be where she is today, alive and growing older every day.

Evie, you are always an inspiration to us all!

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From Polycystic Kidney Disease to a life of gratitude and adventure.

KIDNEY, TRANSPLANT, PKD, INSPIRATIONAL STORIES

We are very proud to feature our very own Transplant Community Alliance board member and Team Transplant Arizona member, Andy Bombeck.  He started life in Dayton, Ohio with a typical childhood, a famous mother and an inherited case of  Polycystic Kidney Disease (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/polycystic-kidney-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20352820).  His grandfather was also diagnosed with PKD and passed away when Andy was 9 years old.  When he found out that both he and his brother had inherited PKD he had an awareness of how bad things could get.  He was diagnosed in high school after cysts were discovered in an ultrasound.  He didn’t feel pain before or even after diagnosis because PKD often doesn’t show any symptoms at all.

He remembers his mom, author Erma Bombeck, being on the waiting list for 5 years and doing dialysis while waiting for her kidney transplant.  When she did get her transplant she had passed away within the month.  This was tragic for him, especially knowing he had the same inherited disease.  Thankfully now survival statistics are much better.  Survival rates with living transplants are incredibly promising. 

Andy found his PKD was mostly benign until he was 48 years old and he found that he had severe itching on his arms.  He didn’t think it was related to his kidney function.  He went to his dermatologist and told them about the itching which resulted in a blood test and that showed his kidneys were declining.  After some doctor visits and labs, it was confirmed kidney damage that would require a transplant.  Andy had hoped he had a few more years to go before things got bad because his mother passed away at 69. 

After being referred to a nephrologist in 2003, he was told his kidneys were twice as bad as his mother’s at his age of 48.  They were beginning to do more living donations at this time.  Living donations have been shown to have better outcomes post-transplant.  The current process only allows one person to be tested at a time as a potential donor.  Many of his friends offered to be tested.  His girlfriend is one of the people that offered to donate.  She is a type O and Andy is a type B blood type that is compatible and luckily she was one of the first tested.  It was a match!

Andy and his girlfriend went to John Hopkins to participate in the new laparoscopic surgeries for kidney removal and transplant.  Andy was intrigued by the new procedure and shortened recovery time.  April 11, 2003, they flew to Baltimore for the operation which was an amazing success.  They got an apartment for post-transplant recovery.  They both healed as donor and recipient together.  Because of the laparoscopic technique, the healing time was much quicker and the scars much less noticeable.  After the transplant, he had so much energy and felt like a completely different person. 

Andy’s first memories post-transplant was that of having boundless energy.  He said that pre-transplant you slowly lose endurance and don’t realize it until after you have your transplant and are at full capacity again.  Six months after the transplant, Andy and his girlfriend Sheri ended up getting married in December.  A year after their marriage they adopted a 6-month-old baby, Micheal, who is now 13.  This second life, with his own family, he truly considers a gift.  Truly a happy ending for his story.

Today, Andy has a very active lifestyle.  He loves to travel.  He was able to hike most of Mt Kilimanjaro post-transplant.   Andy is an avid hiker and hiked part of the Appalachian Trail last summer.  He plays guitar at Saint Vincent De Paul.  He volunteers with Donor Network, Children’s Miracle Network, Transplant Community Alliance and is active with Transplant Team Arizona.

Andy encourages living your life to it’s fullest because every moment is a gift.

COMMENTS (1)

 

Betty Day  · 0 Likes

  

I too was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Kidney Disease at the age of 21 at the age of 42 I started a downward Spiral. At 52 I had a Transplant . Going on 19 years I have lived longer than I would have on Dialysis. Thank You my sweet donor!!

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2020 Donor Dash

The first Donor Dash presented by Transplant Community Alliance on February 15th was an overwhelming success. We exceeded our runner limit and are happy to be looking for a larger venue for next year so that we can continue to grow with as our community support does. If you missed this refreshing, brisk morning run for a cause and to celebrate with friends, keep your eye’s out for next year’s run date to be announced soon. This will surely be a can’t-miss annual event.

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Runners and friends started arriving around 8 am. The Vendor Village included community supporters like Phoenix College School of Massage Therapy, Banner Transplant Institute, Pawsitive Friendships, ReacTvate Vitality and Wellness Center, Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy, and Transplant Families and Abnormal Hearts were there to share their stories. On display was a Donor Heroes Wall for recipients and families to pay tribute to their donors. The wall was filled with amazing messages about thankfulness and lives saved by unselfish final gifts from Donor Heroes. Reggie Donor from Donor Network of Arizona was taking pictures with everyone and getting the crowd excited to race.

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The race started at 9 am and they were off – Runners, walkers, dogs, strollers, kids, families and more. Our first Donor Dash had begun.  Over 200 runners and walkers were being cheered on by all in attendance.  

Every participant received a shirt and a medal, with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd in their age group for both men and women receiving awards.

Pictures now online at www.NewLifeSociety.org/gallery

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Just Ask Judy – February 2020

Are Medicare Advantage plans bad?

January 1st through March 31st is open enrollment time for Medicare Advantage plans. You can switch Medicare Advantage plans or leave a Medicare Advantage plan in place. You are able to pick up a Part D plan and possibly a supplement as well.

I have often been asked, “Are Medicare Advantage plans bad?”

Not really, they are just misunderstood. All too often Medicare beneficiaries try to enroll in coverage on their own without the free help from Transplant Community Alliance. There are some very important details to cover, especially for the transplant recipient. If you are unhappy with your plan, maybe it’s time to change.  You need to know the rules before you make any changes.

I can review your existing plan and we can look at what Plans are available.  You’ll learn how to get the best return on your investment (premium payments) while keeping the doctors you currently have.  A full plan review is waiting for you!   Email info@TransplantAZ.org or call 602-277-2661  to sign up for a consultation.