Mike Frandsen - A true survivor

It has now been seven months since my kidney transplant, and everything is going well. Thanks for the support from everybody in all the different ways, especially my donor Tina Knowles Clark. My kidney function is now only slightly outside of the normal range. I was very lucky to get a kidney after years of searching and waiting.

I’m going to have one more major surgery – a double nephrectomy (both my original kidneys will be removed). It’s tentatively scheduled for July 2 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. My native kidneys are massively enlarged. They are each about a foot long – almost three times the normal size. Together they weigh an estimated 30-35 pounds. They cause me shortness of breath, digestive problems, and low energy. They became so large from the number and size of cysts that grew on the kidneys because of polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disease.

People often ask why the kidneys aren’t removed during the transplant. The native kidneys don’t always need to be removed because the donor kidney is put in a different location, above and to the side of the bladder. Sometimes surgeons remove native kidneys during a transplant, but more often it’s after, and sometimes not at all. If the doctors remove them they usually do it in a separate operation after the transplant, because transplants and nephrectomies each take several hours. If they had removed them during the transplant, that could have lowered the chance of the transplant being successful. Plus it would have been a much harder recovery, and the recovery was already very difficult.

I will stay in the hospital for at least a week after the surgery, but will not be able to work for a month because of the recovery. The pain is expected to be much worse after this operation than it was after the kidney transplant. However, there won’t be the issue of wondering whether the operation was successful or not. Everything should go fine.

If anyone is interested in making a tax-deductible donation through the National Foundation for Transplants to go toward uncovered medical expenses and living expenses following my surgery, please see http://patients.transplants.org/mikefrandsen.

I would suggest just $25 if you want to but if not, just wishing good luck before the surgery and during the recovery would be more than enough. I wasn’t able to work for three months after the transplant, and it will be another month after this one, possibly more, before I can work again.

The photo above isn’t very good, but it’s of me getting an iron infusion a couple of weeks ago. I had low iron and few other minor issues after the transplant but everything is now going well, and once I am able to have my old kidneys removed and recover from that, I will be doing great. Thanks.