N15 — April 2013 — Sister's Kidney for Little Brother
Intro: For his entire life, radio host James Rabe has known that one day he'd need a new kidney. A disease called Alport Syndrome slowly caused his kidneys to fail. As his condition advanced, the search for a new organ began. His big sister stepped up and gave part of herself so her little brother could live.
"I'm a morning show guy on a radio station in Idaho. Hot 100 FM."
High energy makes James Rabe's [Ray'-bee] show a leader in the market. But getting through a shift was tough when his kidneys began to fail.
"Bzzzzt. Just shut down. It probably wasn't all in one day. I got more and more tired, more and more worn out.
James was born with Alport Syndrome. A genetic condition that causes end stage kidney disease.
"At about five or six my mom had us tested for Alport Syndrome. She told me one day you'll probably need a new kidney."
That day came when James was in his mid-forty's. He went on dialysis and the search for a donor kidney began.
"When they told him what his blood type was, I said, 'that's what mine is too.'"
James' big sister Joan stepped up.
"I was driving through Nebraska when she called and told me she was a match. I had to pull over and just think about that for a while. I sat there and cried for a while. It was great."
Why try for a living donor instead of a deceased donor kidney? Here's Mayo Clinic transplant surgeon Dr. Mikel Prieto [Mick-el' Pree-ay'-toh].
"There are two major reasons for doing this. The first one is we have a limited number of deceased donor organs and, therefore, to get a deceased donor organ you need to go on a waiting list and typically wait for a few years to get a transplant."
The second reason is that living kidneys are usually healthier than deceased donor kidneys and may last longer.
Both James and his sister Joan had successful surgeries.
"Yeah a little bit of pain, but, wow, I feel so good!"
It took a while for both to recover completely. But James is back on the air, waking up his morning show fans with great energy.
For Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Vivien Williams.
For the rest of his life, James will have to take medicine to prevent his body from rejecting his new kidney. But he says that's just fine. And, he says, he will be forever grateful to his sister.
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