Organ Donation Turns Tragic Loss into Miracle



The benefits of organ donation were never more apparent at The University of Kansas Health System than when a woman in her 50s experienced a stroke that led to brain death. With multiple organs failing, she didn’t appear to be a candidate for organ donation.

Working with the Midwest Transplant Network, which partners with the hospital to evaluate and manage potential organ donors, pulmonary and critical care specialist Tim Williamson, MD, determined that lung donation might be possible.

The patient’s family consented to organ donation, turning their own tragic loss into another family's miracle. With their blessing, Williamson took extra steps to maximize lung function in the donor and performed dialysis to compensate for kidney failure.

Thousands of miles away, a transplant surgeon was managing the care of a young woman named Hannah. She had been born with cystic fibrosis and appeared to be in a losing battle for her life. Hannah’s surgeon feared his young patient would not survive without an immediate lung transplant. She was listed for transplant that same day, appearing near the top of the list because she was critically ill.

Through the hospital’s partnership with the Midwest Transplant Network, Dr. Williamson’s patient was identified as the best-matched donor, and the lung transplant was set in motion. The transplant was a success, and today Hannah is enjoying the best health of her life.

Hannah is living proof that organ donation and transplants save lives. – Gigi Vulgamott, RN

Hannah’s story was featured at a national conference on organ donation and transplantation. Members of our organ donation team were surprised and thrilled when Hannah walked on stage following the presentation and was introduced to the audience.

Gigi Vulgamott, RN, hospital and family services coordinator, Midwest Transplant Network, also was delighted to meet Hannah. "She is living proof that organ donation and transplants save lives," she says.

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