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Transplant Recipients Going Strong: September 2, 2013

It’s cause for celebration for both Susan Servis and the renal transplant team at Gulf Coast Medical Center. Servis is celebrating a new kidney, and the hospital is recognizing her as their 800th success story.

“They called me at night and said come in at 5 o’clock the next morning,” says Servis.
Rewind to 1990 and Wayne Jensen. He was the program’s first ever recipient.

“Except for the kidney, I was a pretty healthy guy. And they said that’s why they wanted me to be first. They wanted the first kidney transplant to be a success,” says Jensen.

Twenty-two years later, he is still going strong. And so is the transplant program, a regional program, beating national standards.

When a patient goes into renal failure their options become dialysis or transplantation. From there it becomes a waiting game. This center has one of the shortest waits in the country, at just under 22 months.

“A lot of places are 5-6 years waiting for a kidney. So our list is significantly lower. And it’s a unique service to Southwest Florida, something we’re very proud of. There are only five centers in the state,” says Josh DeTillio, Gulf Coast Medical Center’s chief administrative officer.

The need for organs, kidneys in particular, is expected to rise in the coming years.

“There are almost 120,000 people in this country waiting for a kidney transplant and only about 15,000 transplants are performed a year. Which is why we are focusing on our living donor program moving forward,” says Barbara Miller, Director of kidney transplant with Lee Memorial Health System.

Moving forward - something the transplant program and the kidney recipients are looking forward to.