Never Slowing Down
People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential organ donors. Organs and tissues that can be donated include: the heart, lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, corneas, skin, tendons, bone and of course, kidneys. That's where we meet up with an athlete who survived and thrives.
Eric Sherron enjoys swimming in his free time and considers himself an active person, but a few years ago, Sherron was diagnosed with acute renal failure, which is a fancy word for kidney failure.
"I started noticing that I was having some strange and new symptoms," said Sherron.
Symptoms such as frequent headaches, which occurred several times a week for Sherron, bitter metallic taste in his mouth, high blood pressure and fatigue.
Sherron was initially stunned, but with a kidney match from his mother, he had successful surgery two years ago at University Hospital. He even took part in the U.S. Transplant Games in Louisville last year and took home gold and silver medals in swimming and track.
"It was a good competitive outlet. It was a good motivator. It was an opportunity to show what a transplant program can do and what organ donation can do- make a difference in life of somebody," said Sherron.
And while the kidney program at University Hospital makes a difference in people's lives, it's also celebrating its 35th anniversary. It all started on February 11th, 1972 with MU urologist and surgeon Dr. Gilbert Ross. He helped perform two kidney transplants that day 35 years ago.
"I was pretty anxious," said Dr. Ross, Professor Emeritus of Surgery.
Why? It was the first kidney transplant procedure in central Missouri, and if something had gone wrong...
"That would set the program back," said Dr. Ross. "Fortunately, both of them worked right off the bat, which is not always the case. So, it was a very successful day from my standpoint."
Since then, the program has performed about 900 kidney transplants.
"That's satisfying, and I wish we'd do more, actually, 'cause I think it's an important job of academic medical centers like ours to provide these kind of services," said Dr. Ross.
The program currently averages about 30 kidney transplants a year. Dr. Ross says he expects to see that number grow in the years to come.
There are still about 65,000 patients waiting for kidney transplants nationwide. If you'd like more information on organ donations, click on the link above.