(WGGB) — People whose kidneys are failing can wait years to get a transplant.
About one in 20 will die during that wait.
For many who do get new ones, there’s also a new worry. Now, that could soon be a thing of the past.
This is Lindsay Porter a few years ago. “At he end, I was wearing maternity clothes,” she says.
Porter’s kidneys swelled to eight pounds a piece. She had PKD — polycystic kidney disease and needed a transplant.
Porter wasn’t scared of the surgery, but something did frighten her.
“It was really the medications.” The anti-rejection drugs she would have to take for the rest of her life and the other medications to help with the possible side effects of those drugs.
Porter took part in a pioneering study at Northwestern University. It involved 18 kidney transplants, where the unmatched, unrelated donors gave more than kidneys to the recipients.
They gave their stem cells.
“The results have been remarkable,” says Dr. Joseph Leventhal.
Leventhal heads up the study. He says the idea is to create chimerism or two immune systems in the recipient.
“Right, so you have peaceful co-existence, if you will, of the donor’s stem cells with the other aspects of the recipient’s immune system,” Leventhal adds.
While Porter started off on the full regimen of anti-rejection drugs, she was off all the drugs just after one year.
“I take nothing, nothing.”
Leventhal says most recipients who went through the procedure had similar results.
While there was a risk of the injected stem cells reacting against their bodies, none experienced that. “It may reshape the landscape of how we do transplant over the next decade,” says Leventhal.
With a healthy kidney and no more anti-rejection drugs to take, Porter’s free to spend her time with her son, CJ.
“I’m so glad that I’ve had the last two years to really be with him 100 percent.”
Porter says the procedure cured her of her high blood pressure, and her blood type changed to the blood type of her donor.
The transplant study she was involved in is ongoing. A second trial is also being planned.
Visit this website for more information about requirements for the studies.