2016 Transplant and Organ Donation Calendar: Gary Geil

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Gary Geil with Dr. Dixon Kaufman, April Schultz and Kristi SchroederGary Geil is enrolled in a research study that could change the lives of transplant recipients.


Led by Dixon Kaufman, MD, PhD, Chair of Transplantation, the study works to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a new combination of prednisone-free anti-rejection medications for kidney transplant patients. This new protocol calls for one daily pill and one monthly infusion, rather than three daily pills. Dr. Kaufman's research team, which includes Kristi Schneider, RN, MSN, ANP, and April Schulz, RN, BSN, is working to prove that fewer medications mean fewer side effects, and a longer life for the transplanted kidney.


Gary was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in his early 30's. His kidney function slowly deteriorated over the years, and by age 65 he was in need of a kidney, preferably from a living donor. Thankfully Gary's son was an excellent match. "Everything fell into place," says Gary. "Both my son and I had a very positive experience, and my recovery was phenomenal." Gary is no longer insulin dependent, has lost 50 pounds of fluid retention and feels better than ever. "I had forgotten what it felt like to be truly alive," he says. He was more than happy to participate in this research study.


"Research explores new ways to improve patient outcomes, and is an essential part of an academic hospital," says Dr. Kaufman. There are many active research studies at UW Health's transplant program, and they are all made possible because of people like Gary who share in the team's courage and are ready to explore new ways to help advance the field of transplantation. "We hope studies like this will help to eliminate some medications and create an immune tolerance that doesn't require permanent use of anti-rejection drugs," says Dr. Kaufman. "We would like to see our patients receive a kidney that will last the rest of their lifetime. This study will get us closer to that goal."


Gary meets monthly with the research team and is doing very well on the new protocol. "I didn't know what kind of results I was going to get," says Gary, "but I wanted to help others as much as myself."


This sentiment is not lost on Dr. Kaufman. "This is an important message," he says, "that reflects how much our patients contribute to advance the field of transplantation. They are an important part of our research team."