In Their Own Words: Operation

Velma Jean McAlister.

“I think I was more or less in denial the whole time. I kept thinking you know, Billy’s kidney is going to come back. This is not going to have to happen to him. Until it actually happened.“

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

“There are three things you have to do when you put a kidney in. One, you have to hook up the arteries, and then you have to hook up the veins, and then you have to hook up the ureter, which drains the urine from the kidney into the bladder. The arteries and veins are usually joined by a general or vascular surgeon. Then the urologist is the one doing the implantation, putting the ureter into the bladder, because they do that ordinarily in other operations.

So, in a kidney transplantation, there's nothing that surgeons don't do often and that urologists don't do often; you just have to put it together into doing your kidney transplant. In other words, hooking vessels together is nothing new to surgeons, and hooking the ureter to the bladder is nothing new to urologists.“

Velma Jean McAlister.

“They asked Billy if he had anything to say before they took my kidney out or before the surgery and he said, “Just don’t drop that kidney on the way up.” So those were his words before he was put to sleep.“

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

“We certainly had to block out the time and had to get the patients properly prepared, and get the two operating rooms. I remember distinctly that we had a sort of timing as to when I would start to remove the kidney, to harvest the kidney, and then also there was a timing when we would be ready to implant the kidney. So, we started not simultaneously, but there was a delay, if I remember correctly, in which I started and said, okay, now I have the anatomy dissected out, and we actually waited until Dr. Fitts had the implantation area, the transplantation area ready, so that we'd have a minimal profusion time, and of course bringing the kidney right over and transferring it to one operating room to another.

So, that yes, there was a lot of planning and talking back and forth as we moved through the operation, so that when we got ready to clamp and cut and remove the kidney, and that was done quickly, handed off to a team who was going to do the profusion, and then I finished the donor nephrectomy to close the wound.“

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

“I was just the one who got the kidney from the donor; Dr. Derrick removed it and gave it to me, then I flushed it out by putting in a solution -- we had a special solution that we would put into the artery and flush out the kidney, and it would cool the kidney down as well as take all the blood out of it.“

Lloyd L. Martin

“Fletcher Derrick came in from the other room. He hooked up the [ureter]. And then everybody crossed themselves like this, and it got deathly quiet in that room, and all at once the kidney peed, and were done. And they -- and I left the room and I know Dr. Fitts and Dr. Harvin closed Ashley back up and got him back to his room. So, it was very tense and very quiet. But then Derrick came in and things started getting a little more noisy, and they were getting closer to being done and the atmosphere was changing. Of course it went crazy after the kidney functioned. People celebrating. And there were people with bottles of champagne.“