Transforming Lives with Transplants
Kidney donor, DeWanda Stewart-Joseph, with her
grateful nephew and kidney recipient, Taiwan Walker
At age 42, after 20 years of living with hypertension, Taiwan Walker’s kidneys gave out, forcing him into daily dialysis and a long wait for a kidney transplant. “I was feeling horrible, tired and trapped,” Taiwan says. “It was like a slow death.”
An aunt, 58-year-old DeWanda Stewart-Joseph, couldn’t stand watching her nephew suffer, so she underwent a living donor screening at CPMC’s Barry S. Levin, M.D. Department of Transplantation. She was a match and last November the pair underwent successful transplant surgery.
Though DeWanda was a match for Taiwan, about half of living kidney donors are not compatible with their planned recipient. When that happens, patients can benefit from kidney paired donation. Previously, people with kidney failure who had an incompatible donor needed to wait for a deceased donor, which can take a long time. However, with kidney paired donation, kidneys can be “exchanged” between pairs, making multiple compatible living donor transplants possible.
CPMC is a national leader in this area and in 2011, the medical center made history as the first California program to perform five paired donor kidney transplants in one day. (The creator of the software program that facilitates these matches is a CPMC transplant recipient.) And in 2013, CPMC was the only transplant program in the U.S. that recorded higher than expected one-year and three-year adult patient survival rates for both kidney and liver transplant recipients.
“I’m feeling like a brand new person,” Taiwan says. “The dark cloud has lifted and I can live my life with new hope.” His plans for the future include transforming his love of cooking into owning a restaurant.