FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Kidney Transplant Center at Lutheran hospital is celebrating a new milestone. Wednesday, November 11th, surgeons transplanted its 250th kidney. That new kidney went to Linda Gallmeyer. She left the hospital Sunday, November 15th with a new kidney and a second chance at life.
About three years ago Linda learned her kidney was failing. She said complications from Crohn’s Disease and high blood pressure were to blame.
For a year and three months she waited on the transplant list, while undergoing kidney dialysis. A process that she said is very draining.
“You go to dialysis and you’re hooked up to a machine,” said Gallmeyer. “There’s two needles inserted. It’s taking the dirty blood out and putting the clean blood back in. I had no life. I would work, come home, do dialysis. Then go home and sleep.”
Then she received a phone call that changed her life.
“They called and said, ‘hey we have a kidney for you,'” she said. “I was excited and wanted to cry, and very happy about it.”
Dr. Tarik Kizilisik is kidney program director and transplant surgeon at Lutheran Medical Group. He said Linda is one of the lucky ones. People wait on the list for years.
“Right now, there are more than 100,000 people waiting for a transplant in this country,” he said. “Only 15,000 to 16,000 people will get a kidney. The rest will wait on the list and some die waiting on the list. Everyday 19 people die in the country waiting for an organ transplant.”
People in Indiana typically have a shorter wait time than people in other areas.
“The average wait time is 4 years,” he said. “This is very good compared to Chicago 6 or 7 years, or New York which is 10 years. But still there’s a wait time. Waiting is not in the patient’s best interest.”
Linda doesn’t know the person who gave her a new kidney, but she is thankful the opportunity to go back to living a regular life.
“I love my job so I’m going to be able to work a little bit more,” she said. “I was so tired before. So, it’s going to be a lot different now I’m really looking forward to that. Doing more things with my grandchildren and kids.”
The shortage of organ donors continues to be a problem for people in need of transplants. Doctors hope more people join the list of those donating their organs. Linda has a message for people out there who may be hesitant about donating organs.
“Don’t be afraid,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to donate to somebody.”