José Figueroa had forgotten what it was like to not feel sick and groggy. Kidney failure had slowly zapped him of his energy over the past five years until recently.
In the ultimate display of brotherly love, José’s identical twin brother, Nicolas, donated one of his kidneys to him. Following a standardized process of comprehensive testing, Nicolas fulfilled his greatest wish to help his brother, and he did it just before Valentine’s Day at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
“José is my best friend,” said Nicolas. “For five years, I watched dialysis drain him of energy and dictate his life. Once I realized a living-donor transplant was an option, there was no question in my mind; I wanted to help José go back to living a normal life, and I knew I was the only one who could.”
Successful kidney transplants allow recipients to quit dialysis, but most recipients are dependent on immunosuppression medications for as long as the kidney functions to avoid a rejection of the transplanted organ.
"Most patients have to take at least two medications at least twice a day,” said Robert J. Stratta, M.D., director of the Abdominal Organ Transplant Program at Wake Forest Baptist. “José won the lottery. Since he and Nicolas share the exact same genetic makeup, José’s body is accepting his brother’s kidney without the need for any anti-rejection medication. It’s an ideal and unique situation.”
From the minute he woke up from surgery, José could feel that his new kidney was working properly. He could think more clearly, and for the first time in five years, he didn’t feel nauseated.
“My brother is my hero,” said José. “I am excited to get back to work and travel again. Nick gave me a second chance at life.”
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