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Author Topic: "It's not like giving a pint of blood. There's an awful lot to it."  (Read 1600 times)

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Offline Clark

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Lopatcong Township man donates kidney to son just in time for holidays

A former Lopatcong Township man has his father to thank for the gift of getting his life back.

Last summer, Matt Kaulius started throwing up often, having vision problems and getting a metallic taste in his mouth. He tired easily.

He never realized that his kidneys stopped working.

After going to his family doctor and getting blood work, he went to the emergency room at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, the city in which he now lives. 
Matt Kaulius learned he had end-stage kidney failure, which means the organs responsible for removing waste from the body no longer function at a level necessary for day-to-day life, according to the National Institutes of Health.

He had the first of many dialysis treatments during his weeklong stay at the hospital in July.

"I didn't put it together. I didn't think at all that my kidneys were failing," Matt Kaulius, 31, said.

'Whatever they need'

The 2001 Phillipsburg High School graduate had a kidney problem a couple years ago, but doctors still aren't sure exactly what caused the failure last summer, he said. Dialysis treatments to clean his blood and remove excess fluid became an after-work routine four hours a day three times a week for the assistant dean at Rutgers University's Camden campus.

He passed the time playing Words with Friends and watching "Seinfeld" reruns.

He was fortunate, however, he had two parents who were both willing to give him a kidney and who met the physical requirements to do so. His father, Tom, donated one of his kidneys Nov. 18 after extensive screening.

Tom Kaulius said he never gave it a second thought.

"To me, just being a parent, you provide for your child whatever they need. In this case, it was a kidney," Tom Kaulius said.

Tom Kaulius said it's no different than giving him $10 to go to the movies -- except the donation process was much more involved. After medical professionals determined his blood type and tissue were compatible with Matt's, he had an EKG, chest x-ray, ultrasound, blood work, urine tests, stress test and a colonoscopy.

Kim Kaulius, Matt's mother, said the organ donation process has been a learning experience for the family.

"It's not like giving a pint of blood. There's an awful lot to it," she said.

Tom Kaulius emailed the transplant coordinator at the hospital after completing each test in an effort to move the process along as quickly as possible. While their son underwent his first dialysis treatment, they talked to his doctor and provided their information to start the kidney donation process.

After they didn't hear from anyone for a couple days, Tom Kaulius found out where the transplant team was, he said. He and his wife went directly there.

"We just wanted to get him a kidney as soon as we could. We wanted to give him a life back," Tom Kaulius said.

A demand for transplants

Matt Kaulius said he always thought he was going to get the kidney he needed, despite some minor setbacks. The family's goal was for a living donor. He did end up on the organ transplant wait list about two weeks before he received his father's kidney.

Long-term survival rates are better for transplants from living donors, according to the Living Kidney Donors Network.

"I was actually kind of happy with how quickly things moved," Matt Kaulius said.

Kidney donations from the dead haven't kept up with the demand for transplants, according to the network. Even from a living donor, Matt Kaulius's kidney is expected to last about 15 years.

He's on drugs to suppress his immune system to prevent his body from rejecting the kidney he received from his father, he said. He had blood clots corrected with a tube, but other than that, the kidney is working just fine.
Kim Kaulius said she felt as Matt's mother, she should be the one to donate her kidney. Finances were the determining factor. Her husband can get paid during the two months he's out of work as a pharmacist for the surgery and recovery.

Some people who want to give an organ just can't afford it, Tom Kaulius said. He's also designated as an organ donor on his driver's license.

"In this situation, there's two (kidneys), so I'm giving from excess. Although it's a great gift, it's not easy," he said.
Unrelated directed kidney donor in 2003, recipient and I both well.
580 time blood and platelet donor since 1976 and still giving!
Elected to the OPTN/UNOS Boards of Directors & Executive, Kidney Transplantation, and Ad Hoc Public Solicitation of Organ Donors Committees, 2005-2011
Proud grandpa!


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