FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Since 1954, more than 300,000 successful kidney transplants in the U.S. have been made possible by living donors. Wednesday, a Fort Wayne father became one of Lutheran Hospital's more than 100 success stories.
Almost three years ago, 59-year-old Paul McIntosh began to feel sick and knew something just wasn't right.
"I finally went to the doctor and they put me in the hospital right away," said Paul.
The professional welder and avid outdoorsman had kidney disease. That meant dialysis from home four times a day, seven days a week and eventually a kidney transplant at Fort Wayne's Lutheran hospital - the only place capable of a kidney transplant short of driving to Indianapolis.
But Paul knew waiting for a donated cadaver kidney could take more than 3 years. "With most people, they wait, because there's not a kidney available, but with me there was four of them and they were pretty much standing in line to give me a kidney."
Paul was referring to his four children with wife Vicky. His son, Chris, wanted to donate, but couldn't because his kidney was too low in the pelvic area. So, Paul's youngest daughter, Bobbie, stepped up to help.
"It's my Dad. If the tables were turned, he would do it," she said. "Reasons to do it - there's a thousand. Reasons to not - I can't find one."
The procedure for removing Bobbie's left kidney involved using Lutheran Hospital's DaVinci robot, a cutting edge piece of equipment where the surgeon electronically guides the surgical instruments.
Dr. Tarik Kizilisik is the Director of the Transplant Program at Lutheran Hospital and Paul's transplant surgeon. "There's minimal incision, like 6, 7 centimeters at the end, and the patient stays in the hospital most of the time only one day. For the recipient, it's been the same since the beginning of kidney transplants."
Once blood to the kidney was cut and the organ was removed, surgeons had less than an hour to clean it up, take it to the operating room next door, and implant it in Paul.
Each procedure took about two hours, and doctors knew the transplant was a success when the kidney began to produce urine. Paul now has three kidneys, since there is no need to remove the two failing organs. However, only his new kidney works properly. Fortunately, one is all he (and Bobbie) needs to live a long, healthy life.
After a successful transplant like Paul's, the survival rates are encouraging.
"In our program, we're at one year, 100%. After three years, more than 97%," says Dr. Kizilisik.
The day after surgery, father and daughter were feeling good, and Paul was already looking forward to his new future.
"I'll go fishin' and not have to go home and do dialysis," he said with a laugh.
His possibilities are endless, thanks to the staff at Lutheran Hospital and one very special donor.
WARNING: The attached video contains graphic images of a kidney transplant.
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