A Texas teen who waited more than two years for a kidney transplant is looking forward to a new life after receiving an organ on Jan. 27 at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital.
"I'm really excited," said Shawn McDonald, 13, a seventh grader who lives in Eagle Lake with his mother, Cheryl; father, John; sister, Jennifer, 16; and other extended family.
Born with bilateral hydronephrosis obstructive uropathy, which occurs when urine is unable to drain from the kidney down the ureters into the bladder, Shawn went into chronic renal failure at age 8. By age 10, he was undergoing home dialysis for six hours every night.
"Children and adults who need kidney transplants are very fortunate to have dialysis while they wait for an organ," said Shawn's physician, Rita Swinford, MD, a pediatric nephrologist at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital and associate professor of pediatrics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. "Other patients with organ failure do not have replacement therapies to save their lives, but children with kidney failure do. Most children are on hemodialysis three days a week for four hours and other than this procedure, they have few other interruptions in their lives."
Shawn continued home dialysis until he experienced two unusual infections, and his family decided to make the trip three times a week to the dialysis unit at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. He continued to attend school after dialysis and on non-treatment days.
Though Shawn did well on dialysis, he still needed a kidney transplant, and none of his family members were a match. He was placed on the transplant waiting list in 2005. The call that would change his life forever came on Jan. 27 at 3 p.m., and the family began the hour-long drive to Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital.
At the hospital, Dr. Jacqueline Lappin, a transplant surgeon at Children's Memorial Hermann and assistant professor of clinical surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, waited with the transplant team and a kidney that was a match for Shawn.
"Shawn did well in surgery, and he now has normal renal function," Dr. Lappin said. "The key to success with a new organ is for the patient to continue with all follow-up medications after the transplant. I expect good things from Shawn in his recovery."
Post-transplant life will be another journey for Shawn, as he will continue to visit Children's Memorial Hermann for follow-up three times per week for three months and then monthly for the life of the transplant. He also must drink three liters of fluid daily, take medications on time and continue to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.
The average lifespan of a kidney transplant from a non-living donor currently is 8-10 years, so Shawn will need a second transplant. However, doctors are hopeful that his new kidney will serve him well through the key growing years of adolescence and young adulthood.
"It's been an amazing experience, and we are thrilled that Shawn has a healthy new kidney," Cheryl McDonald said. "We are so grateful to the organ donor and the donor's family for giving Shawn a second chance at life."
As for Shawn, he looks forward to resuming his normal activities, including playing video games and watching wrestling.