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Transplant Patient Stories


The New Normal: Heart Transplant Follows HIV Diagnosis
Carl Klaxon's health was deteriorating due to heart failure, but was told he as ineligible for a heart transplant because of his HIV. Klaxon refused to give up and continued looking for alternative treatment solutions. After he was referred to the University of Chicago Medicine and Dr. Nir Uriel, Klaxon went on to be the first HIV-positive heart transplant recipient in Illinois.

Larry Bybee

Heart Transplant Recipient Gives Back to Those That Saved His Life
Following a massive heart attack, Michigan construction worker Larry Bybee received a heart transplant on his 50th birthday. In 2009, he served as grand marshal for the University of Chicago's team at the downtown Chicago American Heart Association Heart Walk.

Heart & Kidney

Kenneth Woodka

Heart and Kidney Transplant: Kenneth's Story
After being turned down for transplant by six different hospitals, Kenneth Woodka looked to the University of Chicago Medicine for help. Soon after he arrived, Kenneth had a successful heart-kidney transplant. Video included.

Islet Cell

When a Virus Doesn't Just Cause a Cold

Joey Knoop

A virus may have triggered diabetes in Joey Knoop when her immune system turned against her own cells at age 17. She spent 25 years experiencing severe blood sugar spikes and crashes. After having an islet cell transplant our medical center, Knoop's diabetes is under control, and she no longer needs insulin injections.

Having His Cake, and Eating It, Too

Mark Morrison

Mark Morrison struggled with Type 1 diabetes for forty years. Eventually his blood sugar swings came on without warning and the disease became life threatening. Morrison underwent pancreatic islet transplantation -- an experimental procedure that transplants insulin-producing islets from a deceased donor into the recipient’s liver. Today, Morrison no longer needs insulin injections. He calls the change in his life "unbelievable."

Woman Breaks Free from Insulin--and Constant Fear
Susan Cuthbert came to Chicago from England to participate in a clinical trial for type 1 diabetes. After undergoing a unique, non-surgical procedure, she no longer needs insulin or experiences hypoglycemic unawareness episodes.


Michelle A. Josephson, MD, patient Mike Henderson, Roseann Sweda, RN

Two-Time Kidney Transplant Recipient Goes for Gold in Sports, Life
For Mike Henderson, being a two-time kidney transplant recipient, has affected his physical health, career choice and leisure time in what Henderson calls his "wonderful journey."

Nancy Mackrola

Retired Teacher Still Winning Medals at Transplant Games
After her living-donor kidney transplant in 1991, Nancy Mackrola began competing in the Transplant Games, an Olympic-style event for athletes who have received life-saving organ transplants. Since then, Mackrola has competed nationally and internationally, winning more than a dozen medals, and even setting a world record.

MaryLou Krippner

Restored to Health
Kidney transplant recipient MaryLou Krippner and kidney-pancreas transplant recipient Tim Kramer are profiled in this story about the expert and personalized patient care offered by the University of Chicago Medicine transplant team. Krippner noted that she wanted to be at "an institution on the leading edge where they develop the next innovations in transplants."

Carmen's Pre-Transplant Experience
Carmen is a recipient of a deceased donor kidney. This is her account of what she went through while waiting for her transplant.

Mark: A Living Organ Recipient's Account of the Pre-Transplant Experience
Mark kept a journal from the time he learned he had kidney failure until the time his transplant surgery was scheduled. Mark's brother, Jeff, donated a kidney to him.

Kidney Donation

Ron Egger and Michelle Hazarak

A Dream Realized: Woman Donates Kidney to Her Stepfather
After watching her mother go through two organ transplant surgeries, Michelle Harazak decided she would one day donate a kidney to someone in need. Last summer, when her stepfather, Ron Egger of Manhattan, Ill., needed a new kidney, Harazak became his donor. In a presentation to her colleagues at an annual meeting, the hair salon manager from Florida explained that because she was a match, she “needed to do the right thing.”

Tim and Scott Sargent

Family Hopes Their Story Inspires Others to Be Living Kidney Donors
"He gave part of himself so that I could continue on with life," said kidney transplant recipient Scott Sargent, referring to his brother and living kidney donor, Tim Sargent. Thankful for the successful transplant and inspired to share their story with others, Scott's wife, Shelly, penned a book, "My Dad the Hero," to help educate children and families about living kidney donation. The illustrated book includes photos of the family to help reinforce the message that it was a real story that happened to real people.

Jeff: A Living Donor's Experience
Jeff describes what he went through when donating a kidney to his brother, Mark.

Kidney & Liver

Virginia's Kidney and Liver Transplant Experience
Virginia suffered kidney and liver failure as a result of polycystic kidney disease. This genetic disease causes numerous cysts to grown in the kidney. Other organs, including the liver, can also be affected.

Kidney & Pancreas

Debbie's Post-Transplant Experience
Debbie has received two kidney transplants and three pancreas transplants. Here she shares her post-transplant experiences.

Sam's Transplant Surgery Experience
Sam, a kidney-pancreas recipient, shares his surgery and hospital experience.


Brenda Garrett, RN, MSN, MHA

Walking the Transplant Path With Patients
After fighting primary sclerosing cholangitis for seven years, Brenda Garrett, MSN, MHA, underwent a lifesaving liver transplant. Now healthy, she coordinates care for patients on the organ transplant unit and works with the doctors who cared for her. "Brenda understands our patients’ challenges," said transplant hepatologist, Helen Te, MD. "And she inspires them with her story."

Kim Lumpkins

Trio of Experts Provides Woman Seamless Care for More than a Decade
Kim Lumpkins learned she had two autoimmune liver diseases in 1999. That unexpected diagnosis led to a liver transplant 13 years later. A trio of experts -- in liver disease, transplant and transplant surgery -- worked together to care for Lumpkins during her medical journey. Lumpkins says she received the "best of care" at the University of Chicago Medicine.

A Medical First, 20 Years Later

Alyssa Smith

In 1989, Alyssa Smith received a portion of her mother's liver in the world's first successful living-donor liver transplant. Catch up with Alyssa and her mother and donor, Teri Smith, as well as members of the surgical team that performed this groundbreaking procedure. Learn about how plans to perform this life-saving procedure were set in motion, and how this experience changed the Smith family, the University of Chicago Medicine, and transplant science.

Woman Donates Part of Liver to Co-Worker's Daughter

Raquel Allen

Catherine Ortiz donated part of her liver to Raquel Allen, the 11-month-old daughter of a co-worker. Baby Raquel's surgery went well, and she celebrated her first birthday at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital. Our blog, Science Life, followed Raquel's journey before, during and after transplant in a three-part series that features video interviews with Ortiz, Raquel's parents, and surgeons from the University of Chicago Medicine. Video included.

Patricia's Post-Transplant Experience
Patricia waited three and a half years for a deceased donor liver after being diagnosed with advanced autoimmune hepatitis. Patricia shares some of what she went through during the post-transplant period.

Alsayegh family

Family Travels More Thank 7,000 Miles for Father-to-Son Liver Transplant
Two-year-old Humaid Alsayegh needed a liver transplant to overcome cholestatic liver disease, a condition that blocked the flow of bile in his liver and stunted his growth. His father, Omran, was a good match for donation, but only after he shed 100 lbs. In a few short months, Omran reached his weight-loss goal and the family traveled to Chicago from the United Arab Emirates for the life-saving procedure.

William's Pre-Transplant Experience
William is a recipient of a deceased donor liver. Here, William describes what he went through while waiting for his transplant.


Josie Nordman

Living Life to the Fullest
Josie Nordman was born with cystic fibrosis, a disease that affects the lungs and eventually leads to respiratory failure. In July 2012, Nordman's lung capacity was down to 15 percent. Thanks to a bilateral lung transplant the following summer, Nordman is now an active college student.

Wanda Samuel holds a photo of organ donor Sarina Tatum

Transplant Patient Finds Friendship with Donor Family
Wanda Samuel was facing a grim prognosis. A debilitating case of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) made it nearly impossible for her to breathe on her own. After receiving a lifesaving organ donation from a young girl, Samuel reached out to thank the donor's family for giving her a second chance at life.

Lisa Wright, pictured pre-transplant with her grandson.

Poster Child for a Successful Lung Transplant
After Lisa Wright was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis three and a half years ago, she feared she had just six months to live. Her brother had died of the same condition, and she assumed the worst. However, instead of giving up, she changed her lifestyle and turned to the University of Chicago, where a multidisciplinary transplant team helped her every step of the way.

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