People whose kidneys are failing can wait years to get a transplant. About one in 20 will die during that wait.
For many who do get new ones, there's also a new worry. Now, that could soon be a thing of the past. Lou Baxter has the story.
This is Lindsay Porter a few years ago.
Lindsay Porter said:
"...At the end, I was wearing maternity clothes." (:03)
Her kidneys swelled to eight pounds a piece. She had
PKD -- Polycystic Kidney Disease and needed a transplant. She wasn't scared of the surgery, but something did frighten her.
Lindsay Porter said:
"...it was really the medications."
The anti-rejection drugs she would have to take for the rest of her life and the other medications to help with the possible side effects of those drugs. She took part in a pioneering study at Northwestern University. It involved 18 kidney transplants -- where the unmatched, unrelated donors gave more than kidneys to the recipients. They gave their stem cells.
Joseph R. Leventhal, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Surgery, Director of Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation
Northwestern University said: "...the results have been remarkable."
Doctor Joseph Leventhal heads up the study. He says the idea is to create chimerism, or two immune systems in the recipient.
Dr. Leventhal said:
"Right, so you have peaceful co-existence, if you will, of the donor's stem cells with the other aspects of the recipient's immune system."
While she started off on the full regimen of anti-rejection drugs, Lindsey was off all the drugs just after one year.
Lindsay said: "I take nothing, nothing."
Doctor Leventhal says most recipients who went through the procedure had similar results. While there was a risk of the injected stem cells reacting against their bodies, none experienced that.
Dr. Leventhal said: "It may reshape the landscape of how we do transplant over the next decade."
With a healthy kidney and no more anti-rejection drugs to take, Lindsay's free to spend her time with her son
Lindsay said: "I'm so glad that I've had the last two years to really be with him 100-percent.
"I'm Lou Baxter reporting.