One morning in the spring of 2016, Daniel Drew, mayor of Middletown, Connecticut, was reading his local paper when a story caught his eye. A local resident who needed a kidney transplant was making a plea for a donor. Olivia DiMauro, a wife and mother of two, suffered from polycystic kidney disease, an inherited disorder in which cysts develop within the kidneys. Her illness had begun to take its toll on her and she knew she would soon need to go on dialysis. She was registered on the National Organ Transplant list.
Mayor Drew wanted to help.
After a battery of tests, Mayor Drew discovered he was a donor match for Olivia. Olivia, who had no idea that her mayor was considering being her donor, received a call from Yale New Haven Hospital with the incredible news that a donor had been found for her. A little confused when she was invited to the Mayor’s office to meet her donor, Olivia showed up with her daughter in tow. To her surprise, she found out that her Mayor, who had a wife and children of his own, was the altruistic donor whose incredibly kind action would greatly improve her health.
In August, they both underwent surgery at the Yale New Haven Hospital Transplantation Center (YNHTC), a destination center for candidates for kidney, liver, pancreas and heart transplantation. YNHTC, one of the nation’s top transplant centers with survival rates of recipients ranking among the best in the U.S., recently opened the Center for Living Organ Donors, a unique organization dedicated to living organ donors. It is the first in the country to pay for the life-long monitoring of living donors.
Sanjay Kulkarni, MD, YNHTC’s surgical director for kidney and pancreas transplantation, performed Mayor Drew’s surgery. “It’s actually a very emotional job,” said Dr. Kulkarni. “You’re dealing with people who are perfectly healthy, undergoing an operation to help someone else.” He added that this type of operation has really advanced over the last decade, with less invasive techniques that make it safer for both the donor and recipient.
David Mulligan, MD, director of the YNHTC, was ready and waiting in the next operating room to implant the kidney into Olivia. “It is an extreme honor to perform this type of surgery,” Dr. Mulligan explained. “I feel privileged to be a part of the team that can make someone’s life so much better.”
Both surgeries went well. Almost immediately after the surgery, Olivia began to feel better and more energized. She was discharged from the hospital four days later.
Two days after the successful transplantation, Mayor Drew was discharged and continued his recovery at home for a couple of weeks before returning to City Hall.
“Before surgery, I had heard that a living donor transplant is harder on the donor than the recipient,” recalled Mayor Drew. “But the procedure itself was not nearly as challenging as you might imagine. And now that I have fully recovered, I feel great – even better than I did before the transplant.”
“I would encourage everyone to consider the possibility of being an organ donor,” said Drew. “I am so pleased that I was able to help give Olivia a chance to improve her health and quality of life. I’d do it again a thousand times if I could.”