This is the conclusion of the story (see part 1 and part 2) featuring Paul Brown and David Allen, who were coworkers in Denver. Paul donated a kidney to David after David was suddenly diagnosed with kidney failure or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The transplant was successful, but David began losing kidney function. He describes the problem.

“The [immunosuppressant] drugs they gave me left me vulnerable to catch a cold or infection. I was constantly getting colds. And that often turned into pneumonia and I’d go into the hospital.

“Eventually, my new kidney started to fail. But it wasn’t due to rejection, though. It turns out I have a type of glomerulonephritis. Whenever I catch a cold or have some other infection, the nephrons in my kidney close up, causing reduced kidney function. When the infection is over, the function returns, but there is scarring, so it doesn’t all come back. And my blood pressure rises.”

High blood pressure, even for short periods, puts stress on the kidneys. The cycles of infection, scarring, and rising blood pressure took their toll. Despite a change in medication, David suffered from irreversible loss of kidney function and was again diagnosed with ESRD. He went back on the transplant waiting list in 2005.

Luckily, he was able to find another donor. This time, it was his younger brother Jamie. He is tall, like David, making his kidney a better size match than Paul’s, although there is no evidence that having a smaller kidney had any adverse impact on David’s health. Jamie had offered to donate a kidney for the first transplant, but had been ruled out by the University of Colorado Hospital as unsuitable to be a donor. David explains why.

“Jamie sometimes faints, a condition called neurocardiogenic syncope. That’s why they rejected him the first time. We finally get a cardiologist to sign off saying that his condition is not a health risk. This time we’re going through Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center, though I don’t know if that made a difference. So we do the [HLA] crossmatch, and he turns out to be a perfect match. Usually, that’s a good thing. But in my case the doctors were worried that his kidney might be susceptible to my condition.”

David and Jamie went in for their transplant surgery on August 1, 2007, which happened to be David’s 44th birthday. Since the transplant, David has been on a different regimen of immunosuppressant medication that takes into account his glomerulonephritis.

“I’ve had a lot fewer colds and there’s been no loss in kidney function. His [Jamie’s donated] kidney hasn’t been affected by my disease.”

David Allen

David Allen with beer in hand. Photo by Julie Brown

Here are some final words from David.

“I never asked anyone for a kidney and I wouldn’t do that. Some people say that your life changes after a transplant. I certainly live the best life I can, knowing that I’m on borrowed time, courtesy of someone else.”