When a Facebook Friend Gives Gift of Life

With the prospect of a three to five-year wait for a kidney, 35-year-old Jeff Kurze and his wife, Roxy of Warren, Mich., turned to Facebook. Much to their surprise, Ricky Cisco, 25, of Royal Oak, Mich. replied to Roxy’s posting expressing interest in being a donor for her husband.

After subsequent testing he was declared a match.

The transplant took place on March 30 at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. Both patients are hospitalized and in good condition, according to Beaumont Hospitals.

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“When I heard about Ricky’s willingness to donate a kidney to me I didn’t believe it. It was hard to breathe. I was in total disbelief that this was happening,” explains Jeff, a computer salesman. “He didn’t know me. Once I met him and saw what a terrific guy he is, it’s even better. Over the past few months we’ve become good friends. I hang out with him once a week.”

“I’ve always wanted to be a hero, but I’m not very strong. I can’t lift anything. I can’t save people in traditional ways, but I have an extra kidney,” says Ricky, who manages a makeup studio.

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Says Alan Koffron, M.D., director, multi-organ transplantation and interim chair of Beaumont’s department of Surgery, “The need for organ donations is great, but thanks to greater public awareness, more people like Ricky are considering the donation of a kidney to family, friends and even strangers. And there’s no better time to consider a donation than during April – national organ donor awareness month.”

Beaumont offers both traditional (deceased-donor) and live-donor kidney transplant surgeries. It says live-donor procedures offer significantly better outcomes and increased life expectancies.

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Because minimally invasive, “keyhole”, laparoscopic techniques are used to retrieve the kidney, donors can usually leave the hospital within 48 hours after surgery. Recipients are usually hospitalized for five to seven days.

The most common causes of kidney failure in the United States are diabetes and hypertension. They account for 70 percent of all cases; however Kurze’s Beaumont medical team believes he has a condition called chronic interstitial nephritis.

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This condition caused his kidney failure, which resulted in his need for dialysis treatments- three days a week.

One in nine Americans has kidney disease. In 2010, 16,899 kidney transplants were performed in the United States, 521 of those in Michigan. Nationwide about 93,000 Americans are waiting for a kidney transplant. That total includes 2,494 Michigan residents.

In the picture above: Roxy and Jeff Kurze (foreground) with their Facebook donor Ricky Cisco.

RMN News

Rakesh Raman