Advances in transplantation at OSU Medical Center give patients a second chance
Carl Durrenberg, a 63-year-old retired mechanic from Kettering, Ohio, is living a full life again thanks to innovations in transplantation at OSU Medical Center. Durrenberg spent 20 hours a week for nine years tethered to a dialysis machine after his kidneys failed. Unfortunately, he was not a good candidate for a kidney transplant because he had unusually high levels of antibodies to human tissue, increasing his chances of rejecting a donated kidney.
Durrenberg found new life after learning of the OSU Comprehensive Transplant Center’s (CTC) novel desensitization therapy. The therapy is a three-step process that begins with plasmapheresis to filter the problem antibodies from patient’s plasma. That is followed by intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy to further suppress the immune response. The patient then begins a lifelong regimen of drugs to prevent the antibodies from coming back.
“The desensitization approach incorporates a number of modalities, using technologies that have been around for a while, but in a novel way,” says Ronald Pelletier, MD, associate professor of Surgery at OSU Medical Center.
Following five rounds of desensitization therapy, Durrenberg received a new kidney from his daughter-in-law November 17, 2003. No longer tied to dialysis, Durrenberg is free to enjoy his retirement. Last year, he and his wife took a month-long, 7,200-mile road trip visiting 17 states.
“When I was on dialysis, I could only go two days at a time without dialysis. OSU has turned us loose. I have my freedom back again,” says Durrenberg.
Leading the way
Volume is considered a key quality indicator for transplant centers and Ohio State’s CTC is in the top 3 percent of kidney transplant volume worldwide. It is also the only adult transplant center in central Ohio. The CTC benefits from the depth of expertise at OSU Medical Center by pulling together specialists across disciplines to share experiences and common research themes.
Organ donors needed
There is a tremendous shortage of available organs for those in need. One way to lessen this shortage is to register your decision now to become a donor after death.
“There are more than 94,000 Americans waiting for an organ transplant. The science is there, the technology is there, trained surgeons are there. The only thing missing is enough people willing to give the gift at the time of their death,” says Marilyn Pongonis, Lifeline of Ohio director of communications.
Another way to ease the organ shortage is through living donation. At OSU Medical Center, three quarters of the 275 kidneys transplanted each year come from living donors. “Living-donation transplant has lots of positives, from ease of surgery to convenience for the patient and doctors to better outcomes,” says Laura Murdock, director of the CTC.