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Tim and Tammy Coles: Living-Donor Kidney Transplant

Image of Tim and Tammy Coles.

The Challenge: End-Stage Renal Failure

Tim Coles suffered from congestive heart failure in 2017 as a result of his hypertension and type-2 diabetes. After a visit with his doctor, he learned that his kidneys had taken significant damage due to his underlying symptoms and he would eventually need a transplant. As his kidney health declined, Tim was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure and began dialysis in February 2021.

“It all happened so fast,” said Tim. “Luckily I had a great support system surrounding me.”

Tim met his wife, Tammy, in 2019. In the following two-and-a-half years, Tim and Tammy have not only married one another, but have stood by each other during Tim’s health challenges.

The Path to UPMC

Tim and Tammy, originally from Rochester, NY, were referred to UPMC shortly after his diagnosis to explore the option of a living-donor kidney transplant. They met with Amit Tevar, MD, surgical director, UPMC Kidney and Pancreas Transplant program, and his team upon arriving in Pittsburgh.

During a living-donor kidney transplant, a surgeon will remove a healthy kidney from a living donor and transplant it into the person with kidney failure.

“After our first encounter with the staff and Dr. Tevar, I knew this is where we wanted to be,” said Tim.

“From the parking attendants to the nurses and doctors, everybody is five-star, and they make you feel like you’re their only priority,” said Tammy.

The Coles traveled to UPMC Montefiore in Pittsburgh so Tammy could be evaluated to become Tim’s living donor. “I had my mind set on being Tim’s living donor and had no fear about being evaluated,” said Tammy.

A transplant coordinator contacted Tammy shortly after her evaluation with the news that she was compatible with Tim and that the transplant could move forward.

“Life put me in a crucial situation, but then you flash forward and not only am I married to Tammy, but she’s also going to save my life,” said Tim. “To me that’s a miracle and it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Image of Tim Coles flexing his muscles in a #DonateLife t-shirt. Tim’s Team

In May 2021, Tim was transplanted at UPMC Montefiore and is doing well in his recovery. Tim’s two daughters and Tammy’s two sons combined forces to help unite their families even more than they thought possible.

“Everyone was so supportive on both sides of our families, and they really helped us get through this,” said Tim. “Without everyone’s support, I wouldn’t be here.”

Once fully recovered, Tim is looking forward to getting back on the basketball court with his friends and having energy again. “My body felt completely different just one day after the transplant,” said Tim. “I feel great and can now relax and sleep peacefully.”

Tammy is back to walking their two acres of land for exercise and is looking forward to what life has in store for them.

“Living donor transplant was a whole learning experience. For me to be able to save Tim’s life and give him his health back, there’s just no words.” said Tammy. “Living donation is amazing and if you have the chance to do it, try and go for it.”

Tim’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.