Nacogdoches couple choose transplant over dialysis

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Six months ago tomorrow, Kenneth King received a gift of life from his wife, Angie. It was her kidney.

"She's very persistent and she was not gong to take no for an answer," said Kenneth of the decision.

Today they're kidney disease treatment celebrities. They're featured in transplant articles and speak to groups on the transplant program. The couple provides hope by repeating their story to others.

"Just the soreness of the surgery, but other than that, once I kinda got over that, it was good," said Kenneth when asked by a woman about his recovery. She had a friend who received a kidney this week.

Surprisingly, Angie's recovery took a bit longer. "The way they explained it to us, I had a surgery I didn't need and he had one he did," shared Angie.

The kings appeared at Dialysis Clinic, Inc's 40th anniversary of non profit service. Doctors say kidney disease is an epidemic around the world. The kidneys wear out as people live longer or make unhealthy choices. Preventive education is the key to lowering the high rate of kidney failure.

King's disease followed a childhood condition and high blood pressure that developed in his 20's. Yet the 40 year old law enforcement officer never underwent dialysis.

The technology saves lives, but king's doctor likes something better. "I tell my patients all the time that dialysis is great. It can keep you well and alive for many years, but a kidney transplant is even better," said Dr. Dolamu Sokunbi, Kenneth's nephrologist. "So that's the gold standard. That's what we try to achieve."

Dr. Sokinbi says the surgery is relatively simple, but the post op is tricky. Following the surgeries, the Kings spent four weeks in Houston to stay close to the Methodist Transplant Center. Now the facility is looking into the feasibility of a satellite clinic closer to East Texas.

"We want to actually bring the evaluation, the post transplant follow-up to the patient, rather than have the patient have to always come down to the (Houston) Medical Center," said Joseph Sharp, Methodist Transplant Center's outreach coordinator.

There's another challenge. There's an extreme shortage of organs. Angie was among about 80 people last year participating in a 'live donor' transplant.

The King's call their gift of life a "match made in heaven".

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