By Barry Kriger WWLP.com
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Plans for a life-saving kidney transplant ended up saving the life of the intended donor, thanks to the standard operating procedures at one local hospital.
South Hadley native Kurt Weisel came back to western Massachusetts from San Diego last month to donate one of his kidneys to his childhood friend, Julie Gentile.
"I can function just fine with just one kidney. I have an extra. She can have it," he said last week.
One week later, his life would actually be saved by his decision to donate one of his kidneys. When surgeons removed Kurt's kidney Wednesday morning, they biopsied what they thought was a cyst. Five hours later, the doctors determined Kurt's kidney had a cancerous growth and the transplant was off.
"The surgeon came back that night to tell me that it was in fact a tumor, not a cyst, and that we wouldn't be going forward with the transplant," Julie said.
Kurt's kidney contained early-stage Renal Cell Carcinoma, a slow-growing and deadly cancer. Had it not been found this early, it would have spread throughout his body over the next five to ten years. If the doctors had missed it and transplanted the kidney into Julie as planned, she would have likely become a cancer statistic.
All living potential donors are screened both physically and mentally. But the doctors who did the screening in California missed the growth on Kurt's kidney. Baystate Medical Center's very thorough pre-operative procedures picked it up.
While Julie had envisioned welcoming this Christmas with a new kidney, she's grateful her life-long friend is now cancer free.
"It's not over. The journey's still going and there's going to be someone out there that's going to have the perfect kidney for me. This was meant to happen this way. It ended up being a blessing for both of us, and it truly saved both our lives," she said.
Kurt is recovering from his surgery at Baystate Medical Center. Julie said Kurt was very disappointed he couldn't follow through with his plan to giver her one of his kidneys.
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Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves