A Kidney-Pancreas Transplant Inspired Him
to Help Others
Michael Kennedy, a 46-year old Sacramento area father of six, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 1987. His family had a long history with diabetes, as it had claimed the life of his father, grandfather, aunt and uncle. “I continually went to my nephrologist and was cautious about my health, but didn’t have any real problems,” says Michael. In 2004, however, that changed. Michael experienced blurred vision, swelling and fluid overload due to kidney failure.
He describes his kidney failure, which landed him in the emergency room for eight days, as a “very scary experience.” After his condition stabilized, Michael learned that he would need to start dialysis. “I had a little depression when I started dialysis, but tried to look at it as another bump in the road,” explains Michael, who has always led an active life. He maintained a full-time job while on dialysis, coming to the clinic from 5:00 – 9:00 a.m., during which he would sleep, then working a full day afterwards.
Shortly after he started dialysis, Michael was listed for a kidney-pancreas transplant at UC Davis Medical Center. Upon learning from his dialysis physician that he could be on another list, he pursued an evaluation at California Pacific Medical Center, which is part of a different organ procurement organization (OPO) than UC Davis. “During my evaluation at California Pacific, the transplant nephrologist told me he thought I could get a kidney-pancreas transplant within six months,” explains Michael. “That news gave me faith that it would happen.”
On December 28, 2006 Michael received a call at 2:54 a.m. from the nurse at California Pacific Medical Center telling him that a kidney and pancreas had become available. Within three hours he was in San Francisco, getting prepped for his transplant surgery. “It is awesome what medical professionals can do,” says Michael. “My quality of life is now excellent—I’m free! I don’t mind taking pills or getting my labs done since that’s better than four hours a day on dialysis,” he says. Other benefits of the transplant include enjoying cake and soda—foods that were previously off-limits.
“Based on my experience, the nurses, doctors and even environmental service staff at California Pacific are number one!” Michael exclaims. “Everyone was very nice and friendly during my eight days in the hospital, and I applaud them for their hospitality—it was a great experience.”
Today, Michael still visits his friends in dialysis, trying to inspire them to consider transplantation. “I feel like I received this gift so that I can share my story with others and inspire them,” he explains. “All things are possible in life, and one shouldn’t just settle.” Most of all, Michael is profoundly grateful for God and his family and friends, who kept him in prayer during this ordeal as well as his donor and donor’s family, who made his transplant experience a reality.