A touching Thanksgiving story

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A touching Thanksgiving story

Post by Gonzofoto » Thu Nov 26, 2009 3:21 pm

Here is a newspaper story that appeared in the Press-Enterprise recently, concerning two band teachers. I wanted to share it with everyone here on the forum, and pass along my best wishes to the individuals involved. The article also offers a nice primer on the optimal conditions for a transplant. The original story is located here.

In contrast with the rampant consumerism of the season, the spirit of this gift is truly to be appreciated.

Norco woman helps Colton man, a childhood friend, by giving him a kidney

07:52 PM PST on Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Lori Bonner has been friends with John Brannon since they played in their elementary school orchestra. Now, some 30 years later, they will be united by more than a love of music and teaching. Bonner hopes to soon give one of her kidneys to Brannon, who has spent five years on dialysis with deteriorating health.

Bonner, of Norco -- who was known to pupils as Mrs. Mauger until she got remarried two years ago -- teaches band at six elementary schools in Corona, Norco and Eastvale.

Brannon, of Colton, teaches choir and orchestra at San Gorgonio High School in San Bernardino.

Bonner and Brannon, both 40, became close when they played in honor orchestras in Pasadena during junior high. Bonner played the French horn and Brannon played the viola. Bonner's mother would pick up Brannon and drive them to rehearsals, she said. They've stayed friends through the years.

Brannon's kidneys failed in 2004 and since then he has been on the transplant waiting list. He undergoes dialysis three times a week, he said.

Doctors at Loma Linda University Medical Center said they cannot comment on specific cases until after the operation. The waiting list for a kidney transplant averages five to eight years in Southern California, said Dr. Arputharaj H. Kore, assistant professor of surgery and kidney transplant medical director.

Finding a relative or friend to donate a kidney is a patient's best option, said Dr. Pedro Baron, surgeon professor and medical director of Loma Linda's liver and pancreas transplant program.

"Clearly the best treatment of kidney failure is transplant," Baron said by phone. "You need to get a transplant as soon as possible." The risk of cardiac disease increases with waiting and on dialysis, which stresses the heart.

When a patient is on dialysis, the veins are connected to machines and the heart has to work harder, Baron said through a hospital spokesman.

Bonner said she offered to donate one of her kidneys to Brannon a few years ago, but they thought they had different blood types, which would make a transplant impossible.

"For years, I was under the impression I was O-positive," Brannon said.

But about six months ago, he said, his doctor was looking at his chart and said he was A-positive -- the same as Bonner.

Bonner said Brannon is the only person outside her family to whom she would be willing to donate a kidney because she and her husband, Scott, think so highly of him.

Bonner also said she knows Brannon is health-conscious and will take care of his new kidney.

"He's got so much more good work to do" as a teacher and a musician, Bonner said.

They said they have been through emotional ups and downs in their plans for the kidney donation as they each go through various tests at Loma Linda University Medical Center.

Brannon is scheduled for a full cardiac clearance test. He failed a stress test while recovering from the flu.

He has anemia and painful gout, which doctors said is a symptom of a buildup in uric acid from kidney failure.

Bonner said Brannon's need for her kidney motivated her to lose 30 pounds. She said she feels like she's in the best shape of her life.

"I've got to hand it to Loma Linda because they are thorough," Bonner said. "Their approach is they want two healthy people at the end" of the transplant, which Bonner and Brannon expect will be next month if they don't catch a virus or need to repeat more tests. The operation is planned for Dec. 28.

Doctors said safety checks are important for all transplants.

Because people need only one of their two kidneys, giving a kidney should have no effect on the donor's life span if he or she maintains a healthy lifestyle, they said.

Kidneys from living donors last longer than those from deceased donors -- about 20 years compared to seven to 14 years -- Kore said by phone.

Also, the chance of organ rejection is smaller with a living donor, Baron said. When a kidney comes from a deceased person, it is transported in a preservation solution on ice, and the cold causes some damage. With a living donor, the kidney is removed from the donor and placed into the recipient immediately.

The national average is a 95 percent success rate for kidney transplants -- and up to 98 percent for transplants from living donors, the doctors said.

Bonner said her family is supportive and her teenage son and daughter want to take care of her after the operation. Brannon said his children, 7 and 10, are excited for him, too.

"The big thing with my kids is they keep asking when I can go swimming with them," he said, explaining he can't because of his catheter for dialysis. "I told them I think we can go over the summer."

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