Kidney transplant works better the second time around

SHARE Kidney transplant works better the second time around
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Ray Fearing (center) , received the kidney of his sister, Cera Fearing (right). Ray’s body rejected it and it was removed and implanted in Erwin Gomez (left) who is a surgeon and father of five. This kidney was transplanted twice in two weeks at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

When Ray Fearing’s new kidney, donated by his sister, didn’t work out, doctors asked him if they could remove it and give it to someone else.

He agreed, and now a 67-year-old Indiana man has the kidney in what became the first ever re-transplantation of a kidney.

The operations took place at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and the case was written up in Thursday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Fearing, 27, of Arlington Heights, has a disease called FSGS, which causes damage to kidneys. Transplants work about half the time in such cases. But for Fearing, his new kidney showed signs of being damaged by the disease shortly after the transplant last June, and he was faced with life-threatening symptoms unless the kidney was removed.

“Because it needed to come out one way or the other there was no real reason not to donate it in my opinion,” Fearing said.

In the past, such kidneys were removed and discarded. But Doctors hoped the Fearing’s kidney, though damaged, would regain function if transplanted into someone without FSGS – and that’s what happened.

It went to Erwin Gomez, a surgeon who took a calculated risk. Gomez traded three to four years on a waiting list for an immediate but partly damaged kidney.

“I had no hesitation about accepting it,” he said.

Fearing’s sister, Cera, 21, – who was the original donor – also agreed to the retransplant.

“It was kind of a nice surprise because I thought my kidney was done because it didn’t work for my brother,” she said. “The fact that they were able to save it made me happy that it could benefit someone.”

As for her brother, he’s back on dialysis and hopes to have another shot at a transplant in two or three years. “Dialysis isn’t the ideal living condition, but it allows me to continue to live,” he said.

Gomez met Fearing and his sister Cera for the first time Wednesday.

“I am very grateful to them and to their family. I’m very impressed by their attitude towards it.”

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