Only Renal Transplant Program Closes Indefinitely - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/2/2007-East Texas

Only Renal Transplant Program Closes Indefinitely

It's the only one in East Texas. A program that has helped nearly 500 people receive a kidney transplant since 1987. East Texas Medical Center's kidney transplant program had to call their patients to tell them they are temporarily closing.

"It got to a point where every time I did dialysis I cried," said Karen Mitchell of Pittsburg.

Karen's life with N stage renal disease has been quite a challenge.

"I feel like I'm being cheated out of so many things I'd rather be doing," said Karen.

After other options failed Karen and her doctors decided a transplant was probably her only option.

"When this all happened and I found out ETMC had a transplant program I was just thrilled," said Karen, "I was so sure it could happen here. It would be close to home."

But that thrill a few months ago has now dramatically changed.

"This really came a shock. I got a phone call on the 18th they left a message saying the transplant unit was going to be closed indefinitely," said Karen.

Karen then received a letter on the 26th.

"This letter serves to inform you of changes of the kidney transplant program at East Texas Medical Center. We will experience an extended period of time where we will be unable to perform," said Karen.

Now ETMC released a statement saying their kidney transplant program is voluntarily on hold while they search for a new surgeon. They say the search has already begun. They said "This program is very important to the hospital and to the community. We are aggressively recruiting a transplant surgeon so we can resume this program as soon as possible."

That could be anywhere from 3 to 4 to 6 months to a year. I don't know," said Karen.

But the letter did her leave options.

"If you would like to wait until the Tyler program resumes operation you may request your application be kept on file. If you prefer we can assist you in choosing another transplant center in Dallas, Shreveport, Houston or Temple," said Karen. 

And although this has taken some hope from Karen she says she is going to dig deep in herself to find the strength to go on either at another hospital or waiting.

"Now I'm starting all over again with one. But I'm determined to beat it," said Karen.

Danielle Capper, Reporting.


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