Second Chance for Kidney Transplant Patient | Health

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Second Chance for Kidney Transplant Patient
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Second Chance for Kidney Transplant Patient

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After Shands Jacksonville's transplant division closure two months ago took her off the waiting list, a kidney transplant candidate is getting another chance.

Tammy Patterson was one of more than 100 "status 1" kidney transplant candidates affected by Shands' closure.

She first found out her life would be filled with dialysis and new kidneys in 1989, on her first anniversary, after getting sick at dinner. They believe the disease came from a blood transfusion Tammy Patterson received as a baby.

First Coast News spoke with Tammy and her husband Hugh in January, the day after they found out about the closure.

Hugh was frustrated, telling First Coast News in that interview, "We could have had a transplant tonight at Shands if a donor became available."

Days later, a donor did become available. Tammy was a match but was no longer on the waiting list.

They got the news Tammy was not eligible to receive the kidney the same day they received Shands' formal notification.

"I just cried," Tammy said. "There wasn't anything I could do about it."

After going through two previous kidney transplants, the Pattersons knew the drill and quickly began working to get Tammy into another transplant program and back on the waiting list.

They pushed through concerns that Tammy's kidney disease complications could make it difficult to be accepted as a transplant candidate somewhere else.

After weeks of interviews and appointments at Jacksonville's Mayo Clinic, they received the good news.

"As soon as we saw caller ID 'Mayo Clinic' we grabbed it," Tammy said. "We were just hooping and hollering saying, 'Yay, I've made the list!'"

Although Tammy's time on the list under Shands will be counted, she is now farther down the list because Mayo Clinic's program is much larger. The larger program also means a longer wait; an estimated 3 to 4 years. But the Pattersons say a weight has been lifted from their shoulders.

"Now it's not an if, it's a when. When you're not on the list, you have no hope," Hugh said. "That hope is now restored again because if the same circumstances were to happen today, we have a transplant."

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