FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Kidney Transplant Center at Lutheran Hospital just celebrated its seventh anniversary and the program is nearly at 200 transplants. One of those was Mikki Linton.
Mikki was 21 years old when she got sick in September 2012. Doctors said an auto-immune disease attacked her kidneys.
“Her kidneys went from being great to bad within a month,” Tracy Parker, Mikki’s mom, said. “I just wanted her to live and the transplant was like, ‘Yes. Finally. We can get her better.'”
Tracy immediately wanted to give a kidney to her daughter, but Mikki refused at first.
“I love her so much and I didn’t want her to have to do that. I know how hard it was for me when I was sick and I didn’t want her to go through that,” Mikki said.
Tracy wouldn’t take no for an answer and turned out to be a good match. Mikki was going to dialysis treatments four times a week for three hours at a time.
“I wanted to do this. I’d go through anything to make her better,” Tracy said.
Mikki received her transplant in November 2013 and is now doing great.
“I can work now. I can actually do stuff go hang out with my friends,” Mikki said.
Now six months after her transplant, Mikki is looking forward to a new career goal.
“I want to go to school and be a nurse I’ve had so many awesome nurses and I want to help people the way they helped me when I was here,” she said.
Mikki is one of nearly 200 people who got a kidney transplant at Lutheran Hospital. About half of those organs came from living donors.
“You don’t need two kidneys,” Dr. Tarik Kizilisik, the kidney transplant program director, said. “That’s why God gave you two kidneys. So you can donate one of them.”
Dialysis can keep people in kidney failure alive, but it’s not a final solution.
“When you transplant somebody you automatically increase life expectancy two to three times compared to dialysis,” Dr. Kizilisik said.
In Indiana, around 1,100 people are on the kidney transplant list, Kizilisik said. The wait time in Indiana is around four years, but in Chicago it’s closer to six to seven years and as long as nine to ten years in New York, he explained.
“Patients don’t last that long. They can’t wait for a kidney for ten years. They die on the wait list. That’s why living donation is very, very important,” Kizilisik said.
Lutheran’s is the only kidney transplant program in Indiana outside of Indianapolis.
“That’s good for patients, good for the hospital and good for the community,” Kizilisik said. “You don’t just go have your surgery and go home. In transplants, patients come here twice a week at 7 a.m. for the first two months. If you’re in Fort Wayne and or Valpo, for example, and have to go to Indianapolis twice a week first thing in the morning, it’s a huge deal.”
The hospital’s already done ten transplants so far this year.