Dr. Peter Ostrow

June 14, 2007

The first time, he flew all the way from Alaska to give the gift of life. This time, he flew in for a happy, healthy reunion. Dr. Peter Ostrow has an update on a transplant success story.

Paul Cardinale and William Thomas walked together at last Sunday’s Kidney Walk. The last time they were together, William gave Paul a kidney.

Cardinale said, “It’s been nine months, and everything is going great. He came back in town to visit this week. We’re having a good time.”

Jeanette Ostrom, Paul’s mother, said, “And Paul was able to be married in March, has a wonderful wife and three stepchildren, now, and able to lead a normal life because of William.”

Paul’s new kidney is working fine, but how is William getting along with only one?

Thomas said, “Don’t feel any physically different, nothing internally different. The water works are still the same. Nothing different. I feel like the same old me.”

And the nephrologist agrees.

Kidney donors almost always do very well after the surgery, because they’re very healthy to begin with.

Dr. Oleh Pankewycz of UB and Kaleida Health said, “The overall chances of a donor having kidney trouble and requiring a transplant themselves is no different than the general population.”

Thomas said, “You have two of them, and you only need one of them, so… The Native Americans have a saying that if you have something that you don’t use, give it away.”

And he’s been telling people to consider donating.

Thomas said, “The Lord commands us to love each other, and love our brothers, and love our neighbors, and love our enemies, and he never once said to love someone just because they’re related to you.”

It feels wonderful to give the gift of life. Thomas said, “Just talking about it stands the hairs up on the back of my neck a little bit. It’s just an awesome feeling to be able to help someone in that way.”

Thousands of people die every year because there aren’t enough kidneys available. Paul and William found each other on the Internet. Then Paul’s mother helped start a web site to help other Western New Yorkers find donors,www.wnykidneyconnection.org.

Q: Is it really better to get a kidney from a living donor?

A: Much better. They work right away, they’re less likely to be rejected, and they usually last 20 years or more, twice as long as a kidney from a deceased donor. And you don’t have to be related, you just need to have the same blood type.