It's been a year since a mother and son from West River went through life changing kidney transplant surgery at Avera McKennan. It was a positive life altering experience for both of them. Nancy Naeve Brown spent a lot of time with last year and has an update on how they are doing a year later.
It's been a year since Jonah Pickett has seen the man who had a hand in saving his life. In February of 2010 Jonah and his mom Susan Pickett came to Sioux Falls from Whitewood, near Sturgis, to undergo living donor kidney surgery. Photojournalist Jeff Cleland and I were allowed rare access inside both operating rooms at Avera McKennan to watch as Dr. Kahn, Dr. Auvenshine and the transplant team laparoscopically removed one of Susan's kidney's and surgically transplanted it in Jonah. Prior to surgery, Jonah had been on dialysis for 8 months after his kidneys were destroyed by an autoimmune disease.
Susan says, "It was very emotional for me, I'm not going to lie, to watch your child go through that and not be able to do anything to help them, at first and like I said, I prayed a lot that I was the one to be able to give him a kidney. It was a wonderful experience for me to be able to help my child out. I never thought in my lifetime that I'd have to do something life that, but I'm happy I did. I'm happy I was the one to help him."
Jonah, "We've always been close, but it has brought us closer."
Avera Transplant Surgeon Dr. Chris Auvenshine says, "I think Jonah is doing fantastic one year later. He is maintaining excellent kidney function. Most importantly he has returned to the life he knew before renal failure and that's always a wonderful success story. "
Jonah says, "I feel good. I feel really good actually."
So good, in fact, he and Morgan moved their wedding day up a year and he's back working full time in a Wyoming coal mine.
Jonah says, "It was a big event. It was nice, long time coming. It was a very happy good day. It was a good day."
Susan says, "I just didn't know what my child's future would be. Now a year after surgery he's living to a normal life which I never thought would be possible again. He is happily married, trying to start a family. I'm pretty happy."
A mom who is no worse for wear for being down a kidney says she'd gladly give the gift of life all over again to the son she first gave life to 25 years ago. The family is so thankful to the Avera Transplant Institute for taking such good care of them.
Living kidney donations typically have better outcomes because there are so many more controlled variables and you don't have to be related to donate.
For more information: http://www.avera.org/clinics/transplant-institute/index.aspx