Rhoda’s Story

Stephen Schneider was a diabetic for 36 years. In March 1999, at the age of 57, he was advised to get onto a simultaneous Kidney-Pancreas transplant list. At that point his kidneys were failing and he was on the brink of dialysis and his neuropathy had increased so that he had no feeling in his feet, and his small motor coordination was effected so that his handwriting, object holding, buttoning, and even golf were being effected. Steve went on the list in August 1999. At that time it was observed that he and I, his wife Rhoda, age 55, had the same blood type. We were told it would be easy to get a pancreas, once a kidney had been obtained. We preferred one operation to two, and held out.

From August 1999 till November Steve’s condition worsened. He was frequently in the hospital. I decided we should proceed with the kidney with the assurance that my husband agree to continue with the pancreas transplant after the kidney, to stop the effects of the diabetes.

My personal doctor knew of Dr. Lloyd Ratner who is one of the pioneers at Johns Hopkins in Md. of the laparoscopic removal. The pancreas doctors in Mn, Dr.Sutherland, spoke with the doctors in Md and planned the surgeries for my husband. I donated my kidney to my husband on May 19th, 2000. I was out of the hospital in two days and resumed everything, except lifting, within five days.

We waited at home for three months. During that time we had many offers of a pancreas. Sometimes, my husband was not well enough, sometimes we choose not to accept the organ based on the information we were given, sometimes we flew to Mn., and the organ was damaged. Then on September 26, 2000 we received a beautiful healthy pancreas from a wonderful seventeen-year-old young lady who had died in a car accident.

Today is 21 months since the kidney and 18 months since the pancreas. My husband’s and my lives are intertwined. He is doing wonderfully. Both organs are doing their things. The neuropathy has stopped from progressing. His blood sugars are normal, his creatinine is 1.5. Steve works daily, plays golf again, and life is very good for both of us.

Living with the recipient has its pros and cons. While I rode the roller coaster with him when necessary, I also got the care and psychological attention needed as a donor. I am a healthy, active, wife, mother, and grandmother. The sun is shining for both of us – We are both available to help other donors and recipients.

Rhoda (donor ) and Stephen Schneider (recipient)