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Life begins at 45: A story of a transplant

With a new kidney, Stephen has found time for some of the fun he didn’t know he was missing. He no longer sleeps his evenings and weekends away.

With a new kidney, Stephen has found time for some of the fun he didn’t know he was missing. He no longer sleeps his evenings and weekends away.

Stephen Farley spent almost his entire life with damaged kidneys. At age four he had an obstruction between his kidneys and bladder causing urine to back up into his kidneys – resulting in permanent damage. This is the story of how a kidney transplant changed his life at age 45.

His wife knows best

For many years Stephen’s low-functioning kidneys had almost no impact on his life or activities ““ even though doctors told his parents he would probably need a kidney transplant by age 16. Stephen did not give a second thought to his 20% kidney function until he turned 40. It was then that his wife insisted he get a physical – he had not seen a doctor since he left home at age 21.

Stephen’s doctor saw the blood test results and phoned him right away. He told Stephen his kidneys were failing and urgently recommended he see David Windus, MD, a Washington University renal specialist as soon as possible. The doctor’s phone call panicked Stephen; he thought he felt and looked fine. He did not realize how bad his kidneys were.

Always tired

“I thought the physical nature of my job in the shipping department for an auto parts manufacturer was why I was always tired,” said Stephen. “It is true, I would come home from work and lay down for the rest of the night. I used to play ball with the neighborhood kids, but afterwards, I was just drained. My son wanted to know why I slept all the time. It never occurred to me that it was my kidneys.”

Time for dialysis

When Stephen’s creatinine levels reached 8.9 (normal levels are .5 to 1.2), he was put on a transplant waiting list. He started dialysis when his creatinine hit 13.9 — he was on dialysis for only one month when it was determined that his son and two sisters, Cheryl and Debbie were all matches as donors. Stephen did not want to use his son’s kidney because he was so young, so his sister Debbie stepped up and agreed to give him one of her kidneys.

D(onor) day

A pale and listless Stephen and healthy Deb before his surgery

A pale and listless Stephen and healthy Deb before his surgery

July 2, 2009 was emotional day for Stephen and his family. He wasn’t frightened because he felt God had taken care of him so far, but he was very nervous.

The 6 ½ hour surgery was performed by a team of Washington University transplant surgeons at Barnes-Jewish Hospital . Before and after pictures showed the contrast of a sick, pale Stephen with an almost immediate transformation to a healthy, glowing Stephen.

Stephen had a bet with his sister about who would be up and walking around first. You can see if the photo below, he won.

Monique

Debbie named the kidney she donated to her brother – she has named it Monique. Monique will have her own set of birthdays.

Today Stephen has to take 13 pills a day, and will every day for the rest of his life, but he doesn’t see it as a big hassle. He feels better than he has ever before.

“I got there first!” Stephen was bound to win the bet.

“I got there first!” Stephen was bound to win the bet.

He also feels honored and humbled that so many people care for him. He’s gained 20 pounds, and never sleeps the evening away on the couch.

Stephen’s new kidney changed his appearance, his energy and his life. He says “I credit God for my life and will never forget what my sister has done for me. Every month she texts me on the day I had my transplant — she lives in Kentucky, but to me she is much, much closer.”


Stephen’s sister Deb read this to her friends at a church fund raiser for Stephen

The top ten reasons I am donating my kidney

  1. I love my brother very much and he will owe me for the rest of his life!
  2. They told me at work in order to get eight weeks off, I had to donate a kidney or get pregnant.
  3. I will be related to the only real man with a female organ.
  4. Someone told me I can apply for a handicap sticker.
  5. I can’t sell my kidney, but I can make up a rental agreement.
  6. Blood test confirmed he was a true University of Louisville Cardinal fan.
  7. I found out that my kidney donation could be tax deductible if he becomes a inister.
  8. I can have all my friends visit me without having a Tupperware Party.
  9. I can’t wait to see my sister-in-law, Gena, waiting on him hand and foot.
  10. My mother made me do it!
Categories: Patient Stories