Atlanta, Ga. (October 30, 2013) – When Susan Burroughs, 53, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a young child, doctors told her parents Burroughs had five years to live. To this day, Burroughs continues to defy the odds – most people with cystic fibrosis tend to live into their late 30s – thanks to a lung transplant she had 13 years ago at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and now, a kidney transplant at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital.
Just three weeks ago, Burroughs’ husband Keith donated a kidney to his wife of 25 years. Until then, Burroughs was one of 3,721 Georgians and over 98,000 people nationwide waiting to receive a kidney.
“We were really shocked my husband was a match,” said Burroughs, who had been on dialysis for two and a half years prior to her transplant. “I had about 12 people offer to get tested for me but none of them ended up being able to donate. It’s amazing that my husband has been right here with me and was my match all along.”
In 2010, Burroughs’ kidneys failed and she found herself in the same position as she had been in years before – on a transplant waiting list. To this day, doctors cannot say for sure why Burroughs’ kidneys failed.
“We suspect Susan’s kidneys failed because of medications she has taken every day since her lung transplant,” said Eric Gibney, M.D., transplant nephrologist at Piedmont Atlanta. “Sometimes, this happens. The important thing is that those lungs have already given her 13 years of life she may not have otherwise had. Her new kidney will help extend her life as well.”
In those 13 years, Burroughs watched as her daughter Leah, who was just five years old when Burroughs had her first transplant, grew up. Now 18 years old, Burroughs’ daughter is studying to be a marine mammal trainer and was able to offer a helping hand after the second transplant, taking care of her father while her grandmother cared for her mother.
“Susan’s battle with both cystic fibrosis and kidney failure is uncommon,” said Dr. Gibney. “But the need for living organ donation is not. Every 10 minutes, someone is added to the transplant list. If there is someone willing to give a kidney, that person’s selfless donation can extend someone else’s life by years.”
Today, there are over 98,000 people waiting for kidney transplants in the United States. Yet, only 14,000 kidney transplants are done each year. Living kidney donation helps decrease wait times, improve long-term outcomes and lower the number of people on the deceased donor waiting list.
“I’m lucky my living organ donor ended up being my husband,” said Burroughs. “I can thank him every day.”
For more information about living organ donation, visit piedmonttransplant.org.