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Adnan Abla and Candace McClure: Living-Donor Kidney Transplant Patient Story

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The Challenge: A Heart Problem and Kidney Failure

After nearly 20 years as a neurosurgeon at UPMC Presbyterian, Dr. Adnan Abla had spent his life taking care of others. He never dreamed he would one day become a patient.

One night, after a long day taking care of patients, Adnan woke up with severe stomach pain. He went to UPMC Passavant where doctors found three clots in the artery connected to his small intestine. They rushed him into emergency surgery right away.

About a week into his recovery, Adnan started having chest pain.

“They found occluded vessels in my heart which I never knew I had,” Adnan says. “I was working and performing surgeries and never knew.”

His doctors inserted eight stents into his heart, but the medicine to keep his heart healthy was causing his kidneys to fail.

Adnan began dialysis but knew it wasn’t a long-term solution. He had tests to see if he could get on the kidney transplant waiting list as a last resort. Many people have to wait a while before they even get on the list. Dialysis is their only choice until they can get a transplant.

“Sitting in one place three times a week for four hours at a time wasn't something I was used to,” he says. “It was a restraint on my life. But, I was always hopeful that one day something was going to happen.”

The Path to Living Donation at UPMC

Working for UPMC, Adnan knew about the UPMC Kidney Transplant Program. He also knew that a living-donor kidney transplant was an option, but he needed to find a donor.

During a living-donor transplant, a surgeon removes the donor's healthy kidney and transplants it into the person with the failing kidney.

Living-kidney donors must be between the ages of 18 and 69 and have no history of:

  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease, including cirrhosis and hepatitis B and C
  • Diabetes
  • HIV
  • Cancers or other health issues that could cause problems during surgery

Most people who have a living donor transplant know their donor. But in a non-directed donation, the donor doesn't know the person in need.

While Adnan began his search for a donor, a woman named Candace McClure saw a post on Facebook. It was about a boy in need of a kidney transplant. Having a daughter around the same age and knowing she’d want someone to help her child, she had a living donor assessment.

“Luckily, the boy had other people tested to donate to him, and a few were suitable donors. So, the transplant team asked if I would donate to someone else, and I said yes,” says Candace.

The Solution: Candace Becomes Adnan's Living Donor

With a non-directed living-donor kidney transplant, doctors assess donor and then pair them with the person on the waiting list who is the best medical match.

Thankfully for Adnan, Candace was a good match. They had a successful living-donor kidney transplant on May 16, 2017.

Both Candace and Adnan are thankful for the outstanding care they received from Amit Tevar, MD, of the UPMC Kidney Transplant Program.

“If it were to happen again, I would put my heart and soul under Dr. Tevar’s hands,” Adnan says. “I knew him for a long time, but I never thought I would be his patient.”

They’re also grateful for all the staff at UPMC that helped them through the process.

The Results: An Unbelievable Difference 

Candace and Adnan have both made a full recovery and are doing great.

Only three months after the surgery, Candace was back to her normal routine. She hopes this experience shows her daughter that there are good and grateful people in the world.

Candace and Adnan still keep in touch. He even sends her daughter birthday presents.

“My life hasn’t changed much at all, except I have more people in my family now,” Candace says.

Since Candace was a healthy donor before the surgery, she didn't see as much change in her lifestyle after recovery. But, thanks to her generous gift, Adnan’s life is vastly different than it was that night he went to UPMC Passavant.

Since his transplant, Adnan has retired and began traveling to celebrate his health.

“It’s unbelievable, like day and night,” Adnan says. “My whole life changed.”

Adnan and Candace’s results may not be representative of all similar cases.

Learn More About Living-Donor Kidney Transplant

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