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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: W.W. O'Bryan is a transplant success story

  • W.W. O’Bryan, Hepler real estate appraiser, broker and auctioneer, never went to a doctor much before he turned 65 and got on Medicare.

    After that, he began getting yearly check-ups and bad news.

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  • W.W. O’Bryan, Hepler real estate appraiser, broker and auctioneer, never went to a doctor much before he turned 65 and got on Medicare.
    After that, he began getting yearly check-ups and bad news.
    “The doctor monitored my kidney function and got concerned,” O’Bryan said. “Then he got very concerned and sent me to a specialist in Joplin.”
    He started dialysis around Sept. 1, 2010, because his kidneys quit working.
    “It was a four or five-hour process with the traveling from Hepler to Pittsburg for the treatments,” O’Bryan said. “I did this three times a week for 10 months.”
    He also decided to explore the option of getting on the transplant list, something  he encourages anyone  in that situation to do. His process involved a complete medical evaluation at the University of  Kansas Medical  Center.
    “You will go through the best examination that you can possibly have, and anything wrong will be found and they’ll start you on some kind of treatment,” O’Bryan said. “You’ll leave in better condition than you came in, even if you don’t get a kidney.”
    He was one of the fortunate ones who did get a kidney.
    “One day I was in Pittsburg, finished dialysis and started home,” O’Bryan said. “There was a call on my phone from the sheriff. My brother Patrick had called and said there was a kidney for me and  I needed to be in Kansas City in three hours.”
    He made it there in an hour  and a half, with Patrick O’Bryan driving.
    “We get  up to Kansas  City, they get me undressed and prepared for the transplant, then we had to wait three or four hours because the kidney had not been harvested from the donor,” O’Bryan said. “All I know about him is that he was 55 years old and had severe brain damage. One of the things they want us to do is write a letter to the family of the donor, which I did. It’s the family’s option if they want to contact the recipient, and the family has not contacted me.”
    He received the new kidney on Sept. 28, 2011 at the University of Kansas Medical Center, after spending a short time on the transplant list. The average wait time at the University of Kansas Hospital is 19.8 months, far shorter than the national average of 50 months.
    Nearly 120,000 men, women and children across the nation are currently awaiting lifesaving organ transplants, and an average of 18 people each day die due to the lack of  available organs.
    “The reason I got a kidney so quickly was that my donor  and I were a perfect match,” O’Bryan said. “When the database identifies a perfect match between recipient and donor, the recipient is automatically moved up to the top of the transplant list. That’s also why it’s important for prospective donors to get on the donor list ASAP in case they become a perfect match for someone who needs a kidney.”
    Page 2 of 2 - He said that the new kidney was put in at 2 a.m. and he woke up at 9 a.m.
    “I felt OK, in fact I felt pretty good,” O’Bryan said. “I wanted something to drink, but all they would give me was ice. They sent me home and told me I could do whatever I felt like doing. “I haven’t had a bad day with this kidney.”
    He does take an anti-rejection drug and returns to Kansas City for check-ups, at first every week, then every two weeks,  every month and now every other month.
    “They told me I could get the check-ups in Joplin, but KU takes such good care of me and I have such confidence in the doctors that I asked if I could keep coming there,” O’Bryan said.
    He said that his doctor, Dr. Dennis Dieterich, is head of the nephrology department at KU.
    “He’s the epitome of  an old country doctor, and I was told, not by him, that he’s one of the most highly respected kidney doctors in the world,” O’Bryan said. “The surgeon who put the kidney in did an extraordinary job.  At KU everybody acts like they care. It’s one of the most pleasant places to through a medical procedure that I’ve ever been to.”
    He also praised the nurses at the dialysis center in Pittsburg for their good care and compassion.
    “The other people responsible for my success are those who prayed for me, including the widows in St. Paul’s Society at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and a lot of people from other churches in the area,” O’Bryan said. Every morning and evening I pray for all my friends and benefactors, living and deceased, and I ask those who are deceased to intercede for me.”
    There are currently approximately 1,000 people in Kansas awaiting a transplant. Those who wish may authorize the donation of  their organs and tissues at the Kansas Department of  Motor Vehicles by having a heart symbol placed on their driver’s license, or by joining the registry at donatelifekansas.com.
    Living donors may also give a kidney, often to a family member or friend in need. The Midwest Transplant Network, the organ procurement organization serving this part of the nation, also has an anonymous donor program for those who wish to give the gift of life but don’t have a recipient in mind.
    “If somebody feels they don’t amount to much or haven’t accomplished much in their life, they can become a hero by donating a kidney,” O’Bryan said.
    Anyone wishing additional information about transplants or donating organs may visit the Midwest Transplant Network web site or contact Terry Bloomer, transplant coordinator, KU Medical Center, at 913-588-0266 or tbloomer@kumc.edu.
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