Kidney transplants have changed drastically over the years, and no one knows better than Brenda Hudson, who recently had her second kidney transplant 40 years after her first.
In 1976, Hudson, who was 17 at the time, needed a kidney fast. Lupus was attacking her organs and had practically destroyed her kidneys, forcing her into dialysis three days a week.
“I matched, went through testing, and we did the transplant,” said her sister, Michelle Tucker, who was 20 at the time.
The sisters became Georgetown Hospital's first live donor transplant. Transplant operations and recovery were a lot different then.
“I had my own floor, my own nurses, but I was in this little isolation booth,” Hudson said. “They were more worried about infection.”
She thrived with her sister's kidney.
“I really did have it 40 years, and normally you only get 15-18 years out of a live donor transplant,” she said.
Last year she began having serious health problems.
“My doctor told me I was starting to lose it,” Hudson said.
The search for another match began. This time, her husband, Dana, provided his kidney.
Hudson underwent her second kidney transplant at Medstar Georgetown Hospital June 28, and it was a vastly different experience.
“I had to wear a mask afterwards for six months,” Hudson said about her first recovery. “Now, not even three months, and no mask, no nothing.”
Since the transplant was laparoscopy – surgery using a thin, lighted tube to look at the organs – the incision is just little holes, Hudson told her sister.
What hasn't changed is lucky Hudson was to find two matches in her life.
Both Dr. Matthew Cooper, who runs the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant program at Medstar Georgetown, and Hudson’s surgeon are pleased with her progress.
About 16,000 kidney transplants are performed each year in the United States.