After one transplant fails, Crest Hill man awaits another operation
By Jeanne Millsap Correspondent February 18, 2013 2:22PM
Yuricko Campbell, who had a non-living donor kidney transplant in 2007, now needs a living donor transplant as seen in his residence Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in Crest Hill. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
facts on Organ transplantation
117,080 people are waiting for an organ.
18 people will die each day waiting for an organ.
One organ donor can save up to eight lives.
In 2007 (the most recent data), there were almost
2.5 million deaths in the U.S. Imagine if every one of those persons had donated.
As of May 4, 2009, the percentage of recipients who were still living five years after their transplant is: kidney, 69.3 percent; heart, 74.9 percent; liver, 73.8 percent; and lung, 54.4 percent.
More than 100 million people in the United States are signed up to be a donor.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.organdonor.gov.
Updated: March 20, 2013 6:07AM
Yuricko Campbell, 32, of Crest Hill, spends much of his week sitting in a chair hooked up to a dialysis machine, with tubes in his veins that connect to a whirring machine essential for him to stay alive.
It’s not fun, but it’s his life at this time.
It’s also an outcome Campbell did not expect.
Years earlier, his life seemed to return to normal after he received a kidney and pancreas transplant from a cadaver. Those organs, however, failed, and now Campbell finds himself on a waiting list for new organs.
“It was a dream come true. I got it all back,” he said. “I wasn’t diabetic anymore, and I felt good again. It was like my normal life before I was 10. It was like hitting the lottery. Then I was robbed. That’s what it felt like.”
The dialysis machine removes waste, salt and extra water from his blood while keeping a safe level of other chemicals in the body, such as potassium, sodium and bicarbonate.
“I go to dialysis three times a week,” Campbell said, “for four hours each time. This whole thing is a lot of stress to go through. Some people I knew in dialysis passed away from dialysis. The body can only take so much of it … One time during my treatment, my blood pressure spiked so high that they took me to the hospital.”
Campbell is on dialysis because the one remaining kidney he has is failing. Complications from childhood diabetes took the other one, and he says it’s just a matter of time before this one goes, too.
“I’m in a life-and-death situation,” he said.
And so are thousands of others across the country. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 117,000 people are on the waiting list for an organ, and 18 of them die each day for lack of one suitable for transplant.
Hoping for donor
Campbell just hopes the donor he knows is out there volunteers to donate a kidney in time for him. He and his fiance still hold tight to their plans for marriage and a family someday.
Campbell’s problems began when he was only 10 years old with the onset of juvenile diabetes, also called Type 1 diabetes. For unknown reasons, his pancreas had suddenly stopped producing insulin, necessary to transport sugar inside his body’s cells to use for energy.
He immediately began the strict regimen of insulin shots and an extremely controlled diet. It was not easy for him as such a young child.
“It was all about the clock,” he said, “and paying attention to everything I ate. It was hard back then. Other kids ate things I couldn’t eat. I let it get the best of me when I was in my teens. There were some days I would have a candy bar and a regular pop instead of a diet pop, and that wasn’t a good thing to do ... It took me in a bad direction.”
As he grew into a man, Campbell began to take control of his health, but it was already too late for some of the damage that had occurred to his kidneys. He gradually noticed that his legs were swelling and other symptoms. He was so tired that he slept for hours each day.
Next thing he knew, he lost one of his two kidneys. There was a short period of joy in Campbell’s life when doctors found a cadaver kidney and pancreas for him. For about a year, when he was 26, his whole world turned around.
Campbell’s new organs both began to fail. Doctors removed the transplanted kidney, leaving him with just one again. Now he is back on the waiting list, both for a new kidney and for his life.
His mother, Mae, said the family has tried but were not eligible to be donors for him. They encourage all healthy adults to consider organ donation — not just for their own son, but for the many on the list.
For information on donating a kidney to Yuricko Campbell, call the Transplant Center of Northwestern Memorial Hospital at 312-695-0828 or visit www.nmh.org/nm/kidney-transplant. Information on organ donation in general can be obtained at www.organdonor.gov.