Partners in Life, Partners in Transplant - South Bay Couple Perseveres to Have Transplant
by Patrice Chamberlain
After 26 years of marriage, George and Laura Renz understand a lot about their vows “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.” George, a 48-year-old father of five, was diagnosed with kidney disease in 1997. For 12 years, he and Laura met with medical experts nationwide and pursued holistic and Western treatments—all in an effort to avoid a transplant. Each year George’s health declined until, in December 2009, he was on dialysis four times a week.
A Match But No Transplant
As his kidneys failed, George and Laura reconsidered transplant and had an evaluation at a university program in the Bay Area. Laura, along with George’s sisters and others, volunteered to be living donors so George could get a transplant more quickly. After a lengthy evaluation, Laura learned that she was the best match but was told she could not yet be a viable donor because of her “white coat” hypertension, a condition where one’s blood pressure elevates only in a clinical setting.
“It was frustrating because even though I was the best match—even closer than George’s blood relatives—we kept hearing more reasons from this hospital why the kidney transplant couldn’t happen,” says Laura. “It was really hard to watch George’s health decline, knowing the longer we waited, the less desirable a candidate he became.”
The couple tried another local transplant program but met similar obstacles. At this point, George, a commercial real estate broker, could only work part time because of dialysis. The Renzes knew they were out of time and decided to pursue a transplant abroad, sure that it was their last hope.
Discovering California Pacific
One serendipitous day at dialysis, how-ever, George stumbled upon an article about a transplant recipient at California Pacific Medical Center. He immediately contacted California Pacific’s Outreach Nurse Coordinator Betsy Bucter, R.N., who works with individuals interested in kidney transplant from the South Bay area. One week later they met with Transplant Nephrologist Steven Katznelson, M.D. and within five weeks of that first appointment, the Renzes were being prepped for surgery.
“From the moment I first called, it felt like the team at California Pacific genuinely wanted to help us,” recalls George.“The level of care and commitment we received was way beyond our expectations.”
The long-awaited transplant occurred without a hitch in September 2010. Laura’s biggest surprise, she says, was that serving as a donor was easier than she expected. She was released from the hospital after 48 hours and stayed in a local hotel so that she and the family could visit George, who was hospitalized for five days. George continues to get stronger every day, noting that the new kidney resolved additional medical issues. It has also enhanced his role as father and husband.
He marvels, “For so long, we thought the goal was to avoid a transplant. We had no idea what a difference it could make. It’s amazing what a good kidney can do!”
Kidney Team Nurse Contacts
Interested in kidney transplant? Call one of our nurses for more information.
- East Bay Area Patients: Clarissa Golden, RN, 510-776-4143
- Fresno Area Patients: Lisa Lynn, LCSW, ACSW, 559-681-0829
- Modesto Area Patients: Robert Fuller, RN, 209-401-8996
- North Coast & San Francisco Area Patients: Susan Reid, RN, 415-912-8845
- Sacramento / Nevada Area Patients: Sharon Deane, RN, 916-768-2795
- South Bay Area Patients: Betsy Bucter, RN, 408-832-5495
article from Spring Summer 2011Kidney Review newsletter