Kidney transplants are common – but receiving a fifth kidney transplant is not. In fact, doctors say across the country such an operation is only performed once every two years.
Recently, the transplant team at University of Cincinnati Medical Center gave a Kentucky mom her fifth chance at life. Local 12 News reporter Tiffany Wilson shares the story you will only see on Local 12 News.
David is just a little younger than his grandmother was when she received the devastating news – her kidneys were shutting down. „I got sick when I was nine years old.“
Lisa had reflux nephropathy, which is not uncommon as a cause of renal failure. Lisa Phelps got her first transplant at age 13. Her body quickly rejected the organ. „I went back on dialysis and had the second transplant at 16.“
That kidney failed as well. „I was on dialysis a long time and I started having seizures. When my brother turned 18, I was 19 and he tested and he matched.“
Her brother’s kidney lasted 22 years. „Then I got an e-coli infection and it settled in my kidney. And I lost it.“
In 2004, Lisa’s sister donated the fourth kidney. In 2010 — her body went into kidney failure again. „I was devastated. I thought the world was ending. All I could think about was what I was going to put my daughters through and my husband and that I wasn’t going to see my grandson grow up.“
Lisa’s husband, daughters, nieces and cousins tried to donate— none could. „I had less than one percent chance of receiving a kidney.“
Then earlier this year – an organ donor died in Florida. Despite the odds, his kidney was a match. „I think Lisa was really fortunate.“
Doctor Steve Woodle performed the incredibly rare operation. „There are very few fifth time transplants done. Its one out of every 26 thousand in a transplant surgeon’s career, if he does one it’s really unusual. So we were really happy for Lisa that we were able to find a well matched kidney.“
„I have lots of plans for the future. I plan on watching my grandchildren graduate high school and get married.“
Doctor Woodle says improved molecular matching techniques and medicines should prevent Lisa’s body from rejecting this new kidney.