Chad had his choice of hospitals where he could receive each of his two kidney transplants. Both times, he chose Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Now 58 years old, Chad says his second transplant has made him feel better than he has in years. "I have a lot more energy," the Northbrook resident and father of three says. "I feel like I've turned back the clock."
Chad has a hereditary illness called polycystic kidney disease, which eventually damages the kidneys so severely that they can't function. When his kidneys finally gave out in April 1997, he began dialysis treatment and went on the waiting list for a donor kidney (polycystic kidney disease cannot spread to a transplanted kidney).
He considered a hospital in Milwaukee and another Chicago-area hospital, but chose Rush after he talked with Stephen Jensik, MD, PhD, surgical director of the kidney transplant program, and other members of the Rush transplant team.
"I felt more comfortable with the answers I got from Dr. Jensik and with the people at Rush," he says. "They made it easy, they worked with my primary care physicians and with my insurance so we could get the transplant done."
Jensik performed Chad's first transplant surgery in January 1998, using a kidney from a deceased organ donor. "The surgery went real well, the kidney started working right away," Chad says. "I felt better almost immediately."
Kidneys from deceased donors last about 10 years on average, and in time the function of Chad's kidney declined and he went back on the organ donor list. Still, he was able to remain off dialysis the entire time, freeing him from organizing his life around his treatment three days a week. "My stamina was deteriorating, but I was able to live a normal life," he says.
Again, he chose Rush for his transplant. "I felt very comfortable with the care I received from the doctors and the nurses for the first transplant," he says. "They're very attentive, always checking with you to make sure you're comfortable and your pain is controlled and always keeping you informed about how the kidney was functioning, showing me the lab results. I felt very confident that's how things would be the second time, and it was."
In August 2008, Chad received his second transplant, which was performed by Edward Hollinger, MD, PhD, surgical director of the living donor kidney transplant and pancreas transplant programs. This time, the effects were even more pronounced.
"I have normal kidney function now for the first time since my early 20s," he reports. "The first one worked good, but never like this one."
Chad has returned to his work for an insurance company, evaluating claims. He swims three nights a week after work and walks his dogs in the evening. On weekends, he works on a 1951 Buick Roadmaster that once was his grandmother's or takes trips with his wife.
He also goes back to Rush for follow-up evaluations every few months. "I know so many people there, and everybody's friendly and concerned, and I see they take the same care with other patients too," Chad says. "Overall the care I've received has been top-notch."
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