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Old 02-22-2003, 03:18 PM
The1calledTKE The1calledTKE is offline
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TKE Alumnus to Donate His Kidney to Friend, Fraternity Brother

(Cincinnati, OH) – Every 90 minutes a man, woman or child will die in the United States waiting for an organ transplant. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the national waiting list has over 80,000 names of people in need of an organ transplant; seventy-one percent of whom are waiting for kidney transplants alone.

For TKE alumnus Ken Page, the wait will soon be over thanks to his long-time friend and fraternity brother, Mike Mullaney. On February 25, 2003, the two will undergo kidney transplant surgery at Cincinnati’s Christ Hospital.

“Many people have been surprised when I first tell them about the kidney donation. Their first question is typically: are you giving it to your brother or sister or wife? When I tell them – no, to a friend – the response is: must be one heck of a friend!” Mullaney said.

Their friendship spans nearly two decades, when they first met as teenagers and fraternity brothers at the Omicron-Nu chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon at the Florida Institute of Technology in 1984.

As Mike recalls, this new journey with his best friend began when he received an unexpected phone call from Ken telling him of the immediate need for a blood transfusion and kidney dialysis. Having no prior symptoms and with toxin levels in his blood critically high, Page was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy (IgAN), or Berger’s disease, an immune-complex disorder which causes inflammation of the kidney’s filtering capillaries.

Although the prognosis of IgAN is often times vague and variable, patients usually experience a slow progression of the disease over the course of several years. But in a small amount of patients – approximately 10 percent – complete renal failure occurs much more rapidly than usual. It is most likely that Ken’s kidneys began losing their ability to function several years ago, but went unnoticed by himself and his doctors.

“Ken needs bigger hints than most people,” Mullaney said, “after waking up and not being able to move his arms much, he decided to go see the doctor.” After several tests, Ken’s doctor called him later that same afternoon and asked how quickly he could get to the hospital.

Immediately upon his diagnosis, Ken faced a life of dialysis three days every week, with each session lasting four hours in length. This process would continue until he received a transplant from either a cadaveric (deceased) or living donor. Considering his rare blood type, Ken would most likely see his name on the transplant list for approximately seven years.

Ken has a small family; none of whom were a blood match. However, Mike and his wife Lea, are both type ‘O’ – which is considered the most universal of blood types – making them ideal living donor candidates for Ken. “Really the decision by Lea and I to consider becoming a living kidney donor for Ken was not a decision at all. After all, how could we not do it?” Mullaney said.

Compatibility for kidney donation is not the only tie that bonds these two friends. “Ken and I have been best friends for over 19 years now, we went to the same college, were in the same fraternity, both of us are pilots and have been flight instructors, and the list goes on and on,” Mullaney said.

“We both knew that our potential ability to donate to Ken was a gift from God. There is no chance in the fact that I am a great match for my best friend,” says Mullaney, “Ken and I were joking that he will now have two scroll numbers!”

However unique Ken and Mike’s story seems, it is not an impossible dream. For the 53,826 individuals waiting for a kidney transplant in the United States today, a living organ donation could mean the difference between living a full life with possibilities, or one filled with uncertainty and pain.

“I figured the average person gets 72 years to do what they want. I wasn’t going to lose three to four years pretending not to be alive. This was the hand I was dealt, I’m going to play it and move on,” Ken told a reporter in a recent interview.

Much more than a feel-good story of fraternity, friendship and brotherhood, Ken and Mike want to share their message about the importance of organ donation and living donor safety: “we both feel strongly that through our decisions and actions others can benefit. The story on the critical need for organ donation is not told. The safety of the living kidney donor surgery is also not given the attention it deserves.”

For more information on how to become a living organ donor, or on sharing your organ donation wishes with your family, contact the Life Center in Cincinnati at 1-800-981-LIFE (5433) or visit the official Web site:
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