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A Different Type of Transplant

Daniel Michaelson

Daniel Michaelson Page was serving on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints last November when he started urinating blood. "Blood in the urine, just straight blood. Just one day there was no precursor no pain, no accident," he says. Alarmed, as anyone would be, he sought medical help, and was ushered into seven months of doctors' appointments, medical procedures, and small scale surgeries. Finally, he met with Blake Hamilton, MD, a urologist with University of Utah Health who suggested a renal autotransplant - making Page both the donor, and the recipient. He referred Page to his University of Utah Health colleague Jeffery Campsen, MD, the only transplant surgeon in the intermountain region who performs the surgery.

Page was diagnosed with loin pain hematuria syndrome and kidney nephritis. The LPHS had caused Page to urinate blood, and the kidney nephritis - a side effect of earlier efforts to treat the LPHS - had him in constant pain. But while the pain Page was feeling was coming from the kidney, the problem was not actually the organ. The ureter connecting his kidney to his bladder was to blame. A stricture was causing blockages leading to the bleeding and pain. "It is able to be better managed by removing the ureters and transplanting the kidney lower into the pelvis where common areas of blockage occur," says Jeffery Campsen. By taking the kidney out of Page's body, removing most of the ureter, and then transplanting the kidney back into his body but lower down into the torso, both the LPHS and the nephritis would be dealt with and the kidney preserved.

Going into surgery, Page said he wanted just one thing, "To be pain free, that's the goal. This has turned into chronic pain and has been for the past seven months." That was the goal for Campsen as well, and he was confident. "Our success rate here is 100 percent that the pain goes away," he says. Without an autotransplant Page would likely have to continue undergoing numerous procedures, and there is no guarantee the pain will end.

Most transplant patients have to undergo intense immunosuppression therapy after their surgeries. However, that is not the case with Page. Since he is not receiving a foreign organ transplant rejection is highly unlikely. This means a faster recovery time, and quite possibly fewer follow up trips to the doctor. It also means he could likely return soon to his mission. "I would love to go back to England, we'll just see how it goes," Page says.

You can learn more about autotransplant in this Scope radio interview with Drs. Campsen and Hamilton.