Kidney-Pancreas Transplant: Cheryl's Story
Cheryl (pictured with daughter Kara) completed the desensitization process prior to her kidney/pancreas transplant.
Being the first of anything in the world is pretty amazing, but that's exactly what Cheryl is!
A two-time transplant patient already, Cheryl learned she needed a kidney/pancreas transplant. Cheryl's antibody levels, however, were prohibitively high, which is common for about 30 percent of patients waiting for a transplant due to previous transplants, pregnancies or blood transfusions.
While antibodies are part of the body's normal immune response – they are the proteins that bind to and destroy foreign matter in the body – Cheryl's were so high it was very unlikely she would find a matching donor. After two years on dialysis while waiting for a donor, Cheryl learned of the UW Health Desensitization Program.
The desensitization process cleanses the antibodies from the blood and stops the body from rejecting the new organs. Most desensitization patients receive organs from living donors, however Cheryl was fortunate to be desensitized at just the right moment, and received her kidney and pancreas through the generosity of a deceased donor.
Cheryl made history that day, as no one in the world had ever received this type of transplant postdesensitization. Grateful to her donor, and thrilled with the prospect of a dialysis-free future, Cheryl got to experience another first this year when her daughter Kara graduated from UW Madison.