Kidney Transplant: November 25, 2011

How many of us know exactly where we were 21 years ago? Wayne Jensen does. It was a day that changed his life forever.

“I was the first kidney transplant in Southwest Florida.”

Wayne suffered from a hereditary kidney disease called Alport syndrome. It typically leads to kidney failure in early adulthood. Wayne was in his mid 40s when they gave out.

“I was so sick, I mean my body was absolutely full of poison. I was on dialysis for about four months,” says Wayne.

Doctors were starting up a kidney transplant program. Wayne came along at just the right time.

“On October 16th they called me up and said we got one. And it was a real good on as a matter of fact,” says Wayne.

And so history was made.

“The surgeon who did the first transplant is still our surgical director and the nephrologist who took care of him is still our medical director so we have incredible stability in this program,” says Barbara Miller, Director of Kidney Transplant for Lee Memorial Health System.

In the last 21 years, Wayne finished his career, retired and saw the birth of three grandchildren. All with the same kidney keeping him strong.

“When I think about October 16th and somebody lost their life so that he could have 21 years, I am so thankful for the people who are organ donors and you know that family that made that hard decision it’s a very tough decision but it has given us life,” says Susan Jensen, wife of Wayne.

It’s a life-giving gift that is in much demand.

“There are really about 125,000 Americans waiting for an organ transplant, of those 95,000 are waiting for a kidney. Unfortunately our number of donors has not risen at the same rate as our waiting list for recipients,” says Miller.

Despite what life handed him, Wayne realizes he is one of the fortunate ones.