MARCH 15, 2006 | Lorenzo Jones III of Pine Bluff was one of 84 patients who received a kidney transplant at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in 2005 – a record for the transplant program and the state. As with many transplant stories, he had obstacles to overcome before receiving a new kidney.
In Jones’ case, he had to lose more than 100 pounds.
“I was severely overweight,” Jones, 53, said recently. “I was exhausted all the time and couldn’t exercise. And I also had a lot of fluid retention from the type of dialysis I was on.”
When he first visited Sue Weeks, R.N., kidney transplant coordinator for the Multi-Organ Transplant Program at the
Weeks said the additional weight can make surgery more difficult and raise the risk of complications. Losing that much weight can sometimes be a daunting task, she said, even if it allows for potentially lifesaving surgery.
“He could have just given up. There have been many people who have been evaluated that say, ‘No, I just can’t do it’ and I never see or hear from them again,” Weeks said. “There was an incredible amount of dedication and persistence by Mr. Jones, his family and caregivers.
“He had a goal and he met the goal.”
By the time Jones’ kidney problems were diagnosed about four years ago, it was already too late, he said. His kidneys were failing, leading to dialysis and eventually the need for a transplant.
He was overweight and had lived with high blood pressure, a condition that ran in his family, for nearly 25 years. Weeks said that high blood pressure, together with diabetes, are the two most common causes of kidney failure.
After receiving the diagnosis, he began peritoneal dialysis which gave him the freedom to work the two years he needed so he could retire from his job as a special agent for the Internal Revenue Service, where he had worked for 28 years. However, peritoneal dialysis contributed to his weight problem because he absorbed calories from the dialysis fluid.
When finding out his weight stood between him and a transplant, he was not deterred.
“I don’t give up and I was determined to do what I had to do,” Jones said.
He switched from peritoneal dialysis to hemodialysis, which decreased the fluid retention, and the remainder of his weight loss was accomplished through diet and exercise.<O:P>
His weight reached 242 pounds.
His wife then was tested to see if she was compatible to donate a kidney. She said there was no question in her mind it was something she was willing to do.
“I knew he needed a kidney,” she said. “We’ve been married 32 years, so I knew in my heart I wanted to do it.”
On Nov. 9, 2005, Gary Barone, M.D., director of the kidney transplant program at UAMS, removed one of Jacqueline Jones’ kidneys. Youmin Wu, M.D., director of the UAMS Multi-Organ Transplant Program, implanted the kidney in Lorenzo Jones.
Both Joneses are recovering as expected.
“I’m doing great and I feel great,” Lorenzo Jones said recently. “My immune system is rebounding and I’m getting stronger.
“I also feel very strongly now about the importance of monitoring your own health. Know the risks and dangers and be aware because by the time it was discovered that my kidneys were failing – it was too late.”
As a living donor, Jacqueline can expect to live a normal life with one kidney. She was advised to have a healthy diet, keep her routine annual medical checkups and no smoking, Weeks said, adding that it was good advice for anyone.
The primary function of the kidneys is the removal of waste from the body through the production of urine. The kidneys also help regulate blood pressure, blood volume and the chemical composition of the blood.
Kidney disease is easy to detect with simple, routinely available tests and can be effectively treated with intensive blood pressure control, glucose control in diabetic patients, lipid-lowering medications and the use of kidney-protective medications.
Certain medical conditions – including diabetes, high blood pressure, lupus and polycystic kidney disease – can lead to chronic kidney failure. For many chronic kidney failure patients, transplantation is the only treatment.
The Multi-Organ Transplant Program at UAMS set a state record in 2005 for the number of kidney transplants. The transplant team performed 84 kidney and kidney/pancreas transplants.
“We’re pleased with the growth of the organ transplant programs and still believe there is the potential to help more people,” said Wu, also a professor of surgery in the UAMS College of Medicine. “Teamwork is critical to transplant surgery since there is a lot of pre-transplant preparation and post-transplant care.”
Wu joined the UAMS faculty in 2004 to set up the state’s first liver transplant program, which accomplished its first transplant in May 2005. He also performs kidney transplants and joined Barone, who had been the only kidney transplant surgeon at UAMS.
Barone said awareness of organ donation also will allow the UAMS transplant program to continue growing and helping more patients.
“We had a good year in 2005 and awareness about the good that organ donation can do played a role,” Barone said. “A successful transplant program requires teamwork – both with the transplant team, UAMS and with our organ procurement partner, the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency.”
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UAMS Physician Key in Creating World’s First Kidney Day March 9: http://www.uams.edu/update/absolutenm/templates/