2017 Transplant and Organ Donation Calendar: John and Jack Stapleton

Pancreas/kidney transplant recipients John and Jack Stapleton

John Stapleton, 64, first received a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis when he was in his 40s, but he didn't fully realize the implications of his disease until 2003, when he became insulin-dependent.


His nephrologist in his hometown of Santa Fe recommended he undergo testing for a kidney transplant, but the wait in the state of New Mexico could be as long as 10 years - and he needed a pancreas transplant, too, to cure his diabetes. In 2012, John's brother, Drew, who lived in Wisconsin, convinced him to travel to University Hospital and undergo testing there, where he had received his own pancreas/kidney transplant just four years prior.


At the time, a pancreas/kidney transplant for Type 2 diabetics was a relatively new procedure, but because Drew had experienced such success, doctors at University Hospital were willing to try it for John, too. However, during the testing process, doctors discovered a growth on John's mitral valve, and he underwent open heart surgery in February 2013. In July 2013, he received the gift of life with a new pancreas and kidney. "Traveling to Wisconsin to get on the list there was the best decision I ever made," he says.


The Stapleton family's progression of transplants was not yet over. Drew and John's brother, Jack Stapleton, 59, also had Type 2 diabetes and was experiencing his own kidney problems at the time of John's transplant. He lived near John in New Mexico and was put on the waitlist in Albuquerque, but learned he would have to wait at least four years. "Those are hard numbers to deal with when you're feeling bad already," he says.


He saw Jon Odorico, MD - the same transplant surgeon who performed John's procedure - and got on the waitlist at University Hospital. After an 11-month wait, he received his new pancreas and kidney on February 22, 2016. Both his brothers were there for him and his wife, Diane, every step of the way before, during and after his stay in Madison. "We are a very close family, and always have been," he says.


Now, when they have get-togethers with their families and brother Arnie (who is diabetic but does not have renal disease), they can celebrate their health. "None of the three of us have diabetes anymore, and that is amazing to me," says Jack. "That's just a miracle. It certainly has changed my life."


Read Drew Stapleton's Story