In Their Own Words: Patient Identified

Joyce A. Townes

“He [Billy Ashley] was seeing Dr. Clarke in Due West. That was his family physician. And, when his kidney failed, Dr. Clarke told us that he didn’t think he’d live to Christmas. So, he had him set up to go let Dr. Williams in Charleston see him. And Dr. Williams told about the same story. And he said that a man had donated money for a kidney transplant in Charleston but he wanted the person that had the transplant to be from the area. So, we went back home and I had an uncle in Augusta and I called him and he got a hold of some doctors in Augusta, Georgia, and him set up to go to the University there and that same day Dr. Williams called us back on the phone and said “come on. He’s gonna let me do it.” So we went to Charleston.

He [Dr. Williams] was very friendly and he kept up with us on the phone and would call Dr. Clarke. He and Dr. Clarke talked a lot on the phone.”

Fletcher C. Derrick, Jr., M.D.

“Well, I do distinctly remember sitting down and talking with the donor, which in this case was a family member, a sister of Billy Ashley, and we went over things very carefully with her. She, of course, had had extensive testing to be sure that both of her kidneys were working nicely and that also she had a good creatinine clearance and good renal function. And we explained to her that there are many, many people who come to us as a urologist who have to have a kidney removed for possibly cancer or trauma, and that there are also many, many people out there who are living with one kidney; some people are only born with one kidney.

So, we went through all of this process in telling the patient that losing one kidney was, aside from the risk of surgery and recovery, that living with one kidney was quite easy.”

H. Biemann Othersen, Jr., M.D.

“In our case, it was attempted to try to find someone as close to this patient genetically as possible, and a sibling is always a good choice, because they are liable to have the same or similar genes.”

Joyce A. Townes

“When they took Bill’s kidney out Dr. Williams told me that your kidney’s the size of a large grapefruit and Bill’s was the size of a small boiled egg and not but a part of it working. A third of it, I thought he said, working.”

Fletcher C. Derrick, Jr., M.D.

“As we normally would, and as we did, and to the extent of our knowledge at that time, which was pretty good, we of course wanted to be sure that the donor was healthy and that that person could also live with one kidney. The recipient also went through a series of tests to be sure that he had the strength to go through with an operation of this sort; he was already on dialysis, so we had to time that so that everything would be done right. We also had to be sure that in preparation for transplanting the ureter, reimplanting the ureter into the bladder, we had to be sure that his bladder was within normal range and would be able to accept a reimplantation of a ureter into the bladder.

Those are the things that I think we really were concerned about, was to be sure that he was able to stand the anesthesia and two or three hours of surgery.”