Northwestern Medicine® experts and members of the medical ethics committee reviewed the proposed procedure and evaluated the decision prior to re-implanting the organ. Potential risks included the possibility that the kidney would fail to recover from its current level of minor damage due to its short exposure to FSGS, thus failing to function properly in a new patient.
“After numerous discussions to carefully consider this first-ever procedure, we presented Ray with the option to donate his kidney to someone on the national kidney waiting list rather than discarding it,” said Gallon.
Fearing did not hesitate when he found out he could help someone in need like himself. Two weeks after receiving his kidney transplant, he donated his kidney to 67-year-old surgeon and father of five, Erwin Gomez.
The organ regained function almost immediately after re-transplantation and just eight days after transplantation, tests showed a reversal of the damage caused by the FSGS in Fearing’s body.
“This is a ground-breaking medical moment because it suggests that it is possible to reverse the damage done to a kidney as a result of FSGS after it is re-transplanted into a body with a healthy circulatory system,” said Joseph Leventhal, MD, PhD, transplant surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and associate professor of surgery and director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Not only did we save a viable organ from being discarded, we also made significant strides in better understanding the cause of FSGS, which has been relatively unknown, so we can better treat the disease in the future. This proves that when an organ fails in one body, it may thrive in another.”
Fearing is back on dialysis to control his FSGS and is hopeful he will receive another kidney transplant in the future. “It may not have been my time, but I am grateful that I was able to help another patient,” said Fearing. “My day will come.”
To read the full story and learn more about Northwestern’s transplant program, visit the Kovler Organ Transplantation Center online, or call 312-695-0828.
Read media reports of this story: USA Today, CNN, MSNBC.