University of Cincinnati Medical Center celebrates 50 years of kidney transplants

CINCINNATI -- Idris Gray spent a total of more than 117 days on dialysis at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center between his 27th and 31st birthdays. He had been diagnosed with acute kidney failure, and he knew he only had two options: Remain on dialysis for the rest of his shortened life or find a kidney donor.

"Even though I had a positive demeanor about myself, there were still 13 people that passed away while I was waiting for a kidney," he said Monday. "It was always in the back of my head: 'Am I next?'"

He wasn't. Gray received a transplant July 24, 2015, joining the University of Cincinnati's 50-year legacy of life-saving kidney, heart and liver transplantation. The very first procedure happened in 1967 when a Cincinnati police officer received a kidney from his sister.

"That's an immeasurable milestone," he said. "It's 50 years, but thousands upon hundreds of thousands of moments that people experience and they never thought they would."

UCMC celebrated the 100th successful transplant of 2017 on Dec. 4.

Right now, more than 600 people in the Tri-State are waiting for a kidney transplant, according to Andi O'Malley, community relations directors at the LifeCenter Organ Donor Network.

LifeCenter has worked with UC since 1981 to facilitate organ and tissue donation.

"They are providing the top level of quality care for people who are in need of life-saving transplants," O'Malley said. "It’s often very tragic, very sudden. A family is learning that they’ve lost a loved one, but at the same time, they’re going to be able to help other people through the gift of donation."

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