For months, Gary McCormack wore the same sweatshirt everywhere he went. The sweatshirt read simply, "KIDNEY NEEDED. SAVE A LIFE. PLEASE CALL 970-667-7841."
Gary's wife Phyllis had polycystic kidney disease. Without a transplant from a matching donor, she would die. Gary was not eligible to donate the needed kidney himself, but his efforts set in motion a series of events that culminated in a successful kidney transplant for Phyllis here at University of Colorado Hospital.
To learn more about Phyllis, her husband, and the complete stranger who saved her life by donating a kidney, watch the video on the 9News website. (A brief commercial will play before the video starts.)
A recent hour-long program on Colorado Public Television entitled Second Chance at Life explores the need for organ donation in our state today.
Guests on the show include UCH transplant coordinator Tracy Steinberg and several grateful individuals who received organ transplants at University of Colorado Hospital. You can watch the show for free (and commercial-free) on the Colorado Public Television 12 website.
Over the past 25 years, thousands of patients' lives have been transformed by liver, kidney, and pancreas transplants at University of Colorado. Given this recent history of success, many people would be surprised to learn that it took a visionary effort on the part of one doctor to bring our transplantation program back from the dead in 1988.
The program had been closed eight years earlier, in part because of the difficulties plaguing organ transplantation at the time: long operations in which the patients could lose over 10 gallons of blood, difficulties with organ rejection, and discouragingly short survival rates. In spite of these obstacles, Dr. Igal Kam had the courage to revive the program, overcoming his colleagues' skepticism and ultimately paving the way for the successes of the past two decades.
In the UCH Insider articles below, you can read Dr. Kam's story. And don't forget to watch the video above (right) for a candid and sometimes comical tribute to Dr. Kam by his colleagues, employees, and his mentor Thomas Starzl.