Atlanta, Ga. (July 23, 2013) - Doctors save lives daily, but it isn’t everyday they get the opportunity to save the life of a family member. When Augusta resident Andrew Forgay, M.D., an anesthesiologist, found out his mother-in-law needed a kidney transplant, he offered to be her living organ donor and was found to be a match.
“I knew my mother-in-law could be on the waiting list for four or five years before she found a match,” said Dr. Forgay. “I was pretty emotional when I found out and I feel blessed to be able to give her this gift.”
Two years ago, Dr. Forgay’s mother-in-law Diane Latone was told her potassium and creatinine levels were too high during a routine physical with her primary care physician. Latone didn’t realize it was a serious problem until she started researching kidney disease. Within two years, Latone’s kidneys went into failure.
“I was shocked at my diagnosis,” said Latone. “I’m a healthy eater, I don’t smoke and I exercise regularly. My biggest symptom was fatigue. I’m an active person, so feeling fatigued all the time was like having a ball and chain tied to me. When my doctor started talking to me about a possible kidney transplant at Piedmont Atlanta, it seemed like a really far out idea but my son-in-law convinced me it was safe.”
Not wanting to put any of her family members at risk, Latone insisted at first that none of her family members be tested to see if they were a match for her kidney transplant. Dr. Forgay reassured her that the process for donating a kidney had gotten much easier over the years and that there was even an option for donors to have the surgery robotically at Piedmont Atlanta, which would allow for much smaller incisions and a shorter hospital stay.
Convinced there was little to no risk involved for her family members if any of them was found to be a match, Latone got on board with the idea and her husband, two daughters and son-in-law proceeded with testing at Piedmont Atlanta. Latone’s husband and two daughters were quickly eliminated due to tissue matching and blood type, leaving her son-in-law as the only match.
“Waiting for the test results, my biggest concern was that I wouldn’t be a match,” said Dr. Forgay. “It’s not very often that a doctor can step up to the plate in an opportunity like this. Hopefully, others will see our situation and say, ‘If a physician is donating his kidney, it really must be safe.’”
Dr. Forgay will donate his kidney to his mother-in-law Latone on the morning of Friday, July 26 at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital.
“There are nearly 97,000 people waiting for kidney transplants in the United States right now,” said Eric Gibney, M.D., transplant nephrologist at Piedmont Atlanta. “Yet, only 14,000 kidney transplants are done each year. That’s why living organ donation is so important. If there are friends or family members who can give, that person’s selfless donation can save lives and really extend their loved one’s lives by years.”
For more information about becoming a living organ donor, visit piedmonttransplant.org.