Teenager thrilled to get transplant ‘payback’Tweet
By Dawn Brazell
Fareedah Cue sits on the edge of her daughter’s hospital chair, unusually cheery as she describes the suffering she’s seen her daughter endure.
|Amber and mom, Fareedah Cue (left), share a happy moment after her transplant. Dr. Michael Denson donated a kidney April 3 to start a living donor chain, the first for MUSC that resulted in a payback kidney for Amber. Photo by Sarah Pack, Public Relations|
“I always keep an optimistic attitude,” her mother said, putting her arm around her daughter. “I always keep faith knowing that everything is going to be all right. I always told her that her healing was coming. It didn’t matter how God did it. Whether he did it by healing her kidney or by giving her someone else’s kidney – her healing was coming. And she’s got it,” she said, explaining the reason for her good spirits.
It was time for the Cues, of Cheraw, to have a bit of good luck.
First came the diagnosis at age 9 that her daughter, Amber, had lupus. It was a rollercoaster ride figuring out what was wrong with her and getting her the right treatment. They did well until September 2007, when Amber began swelling and had to be flown to MUSC. She was diagnosed with end stage renal failure and had to be placed on dialysis.
Then in December that same year Amber began having difficulty breathing. Cue took her to the emergency room, and Amber had to be flown to Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia. In flight, Amber went into cardiac arrest and had a mini-stroke, her mother said.
“Her blood pressure was sky high. She had to learn to walk and talk all over again. Prayer got me through it,” she said of the tedious and scary process of rehabilitation. It was one of the worst moments of her life.
They have lived with dialysis ever since with Amber restricted by a dialysis schedule that has her chained to a machine for endless hours, not being able to go swimming or spend the night with friends. Both said it’s a hard life.
“Finally, we decided it was time to stop carrying the machine with us everywhere we go,” Cue said. “We want to travel.”
They decided to put Amber’s name on the waiting list for a kidney transplant about seven months ago. Fortunately, they didn’t have to wait long.
On Aug. 16, Amber became the “payback” recipient of MUSC’s first living donor kidney chain. MUSC is one of 70 different centers that participate in the National Kidney Registry’s living donor kidney program, and it is the only transplant center in this state. Michael Denson, Ph.D., director of Marine Resources Research Institute with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, became MUSC’s first Good Samaritan donor April 3.
|Amber made a celebration poster for her transplant date so she can remember the day. Photo by Sarah Pack, Public Relations|
He started the chain that led to Amber getting a payback kidney last month from a donor who was a police officer. Cue was amazed how well her daughter was doing. As they packed up on her release date Aug. 20, Amber began her negotiations.
“Mom, I want to go swimming today,” she pleads.
“No, it’s too soon, yet. We’re not taking any chances,” her mother is quick to reply. They will have to be careful for three months as her daughter heals, and they make sure the kidney is not rejected.
Amber is enrolled in the Children and High Panel-Reactive Antibody (PRA) Program (CHIP), which helps children who are unlikely to find a donor because they’ve developed immunological sensitivities making them likely to reject organs from most donors. As a registry-affiliated institution, MUSC is granted 50 CHIP slots and Cue’s kidney, which came from a police officer, is considered “payback” for Denson’s non-directed donation of April 3.
Her surgeon, Prabhakar Baliga, M.D., said the living donor chains allow patients to overcome the barriers of blood type compatibility or HLA antibodies that make transplants difficult to find for such recipients. Living donor chains allow multiple recipients to be transplanted and is the maximum benefit that can be derived from a donated kidney.
“So unlike in the past where only one patient got the benefit, in a chain on an average as many as half a dozen can get a successful high quality transplant," he said.
Baliga said the MUSC Children’s Hospital places all of its children at high immunological risk on the exchange registry. “We felt that they should receive the maximum benefit of a living donor kidney,” he said.
Kidneys transplanted from living donors are preferred because they last nearly twice as long as kidneys transplanted from deceased donors, according to data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.
Baliga said Amber’s procedure went extremely well. “She had immediate excellent graft function with her serum creatinine decreasing from 10 to 1.2 in less than 72 hours,” he said.
Cue, who now is home with her daughter, said they are thankful Amber has done so well. Cue said they weren’t aware of the living donor program until they came to MUSC. Many in her family who might have been matches have high blood pressure or other conditions and were not good candidates.
Amber said it’s been a rough journey, but she’s glad she’s had the surgery. She’s eager to swim, travel and visit with friends without having to worry about bringing her machine. They plan to go to Myrtle Beach after she’s recovered sufficiently. Her mother smiles.
“Then we’ll be ready to rock and roll. We plan to stay in a hotel with a heated pool,” she said. “She’s going to get in that pool.”
They are thankful to all the donors in the chain who made it possible, but particularly Denson who started the chain and the police officer who was her direct donor. Amber nods, adding, “Thank you very much. I’m going to take good care of it.”
Her mother echoes the sentiment.
“I’m so thankful and blessed that he is such a Good Samaritan that he allowed my daughter to get his kidney and that it works perfectly and is going to continue to work perfectly, and we’re just so grateful for it,” Cue said.
September 17, 2013