Kidney-pancreas transplant

A pancreas-kidney transplant changed Chue's life

Chue Yang crossing his arms, leaning against a tree trunk
Chue Yang

Chue Yang’s health took a nosedive when the Madison, Wisconsin man suffered a stroke that paralyzed part of his arm and leg. He learned that the stroke was a result of uncontrolled diabetes, which was also causing his kidneys to fail.

His doctors told him his kidneys were functioning at only 5 percent and he needed to go on dialysis.

In 2018, Chue was placed on the wait list at UW Health for a combined kidney-pancreas transplant. His doctors told him that because he suffered from diabetes, receiving both organs in a transplant would not only help his kidney function, but it would also eliminate the need for insulin. Chue was at a dialysis center when he received a call that a kidney and pancreas had become available for him. He rushed to the hospital and received the gift of life with a transplant. “I was really glad they chose me,” he says. “Otherwise, I would still be on dialysis. They took really good care of me at University Hospital.”

After the transplant, Chue’s wife, Xia, stayed in the hospital with him for a week with their newborn son. When they returned home, Chue discovered he was in better health than he had been for years. From habit, he still checks his blood sugar every day, and it’s normal all the time now.

Chue and Xia are Hmong, an ethnic group that is often uncomfortable with organ donation. However, now that Chue has experienced the lifesaving effects of a transplant, he thinks his friends and family are more open to becoming organ donors. The dad of two sons, ages 23 and 2, Chue wants to teach his boys that there are many ways to help other people. “If somebody didn’t donate this kidney to me, I don’t know what would have happened,” he says. “I would be interested in organ donation if something ever happened to me.”