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UMC's Transplant Program Celebrates a Success | News

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UMC's Transplant Program Celebrates a Success
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After months of not being allowed to perform kidney transplants, UMC's program is back online with the help of some Utah doctors. Thanks to them, one local couple is starting a new life -- one free of dialysis and stress.

And while it has a happy ending, the beginning and middle of Kevin and Jennifer Johnson's story is full of stress and worry. In the midst of planning Jennifer's kidney transplant, UMC's program stopped performing transplants, leaving them wondering where they would go for help.

The last six months of Jennifer's life has been full of dialysis and pills. Her kidneys were failing and she was in desperate need of a transplant, "If I would have chosen not to do dialysis, I would have ultimately died."

Kevin, her husband of three years and a Metro Police detective, said there was no question what he needed to do, "It was something I wanted to do for her. If I had the ability and was a match for her, I would definitely give her one of mine."

Kevin was a match. They were set for surgery until UMC's kidney transplant program was forced to stop performing transplants after being told the program had too many deaths. For the Johnson's, the news was devastating. They would have to go out of state, start the testing process all over, pay even more money and Jennifer would stay on dialysis.

But UMC's program fought back. They struck an agreement with four Utah doctors to take turns commuting to Las Vegas to perform the transplants.

Surgeon Tim Gayowski stepped up, "We thought if we can help, let's help rather than the program closes down and the people of Nevada are really disadvantaged."

The Johnson's were the first kidney transplant since the program was re-activated and it was a success.

Life for the couple has already changed, "I'm not hooked up to anything. I can just get up, get out of bed, get a glass of water without having to disconnect."

"I think it's a blessing. I looked at her in bed this morning and my kidney is working inside of her and it's making her feel healthy," said Kevin.

The Johnson's call the transplant team family and Jennifer calls her husband hero, "He is my hero. He's my savior. I know God brought him to me. He brought him to save me."

The kidney transplant program is the only one in Nevada. Right now there are more than 300 Las Vegans on the waiting list for a kidney. UMC is actively recruiting other surgeons to keep their program running.

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