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The U's 2,000th Kidney Transplant: A Sister Gives Life, Hope to Younger Brother

Jan 28, 2008 3:00 PM

At age 5, Curtis Barney was diagnosed with glomerulonephritis, a type of kidney disease for which doctors told him there was no treatment. For the next 23 years, Barney’s kidneys worked well enough. But 10 months ago, his kidney function dropped below 25 percent and he began his journey at the U of U Kidney Transplantation Program.

Barney’s two older sisters immediately volunteered to donate a kidney. “Our family is so close,” said Barney’s sister Robyn Fillmore, 42. “What happens to one, happens to all of us.” As it turned out both sisters had 3 or 4 of the six markers tested. When the transplant team decided Fillmore was the best candidate, Barney’s sister Jill, 38, was disappointed.

“I never thought for a minute that they wouldn’t do it for me, but that’s a lot to ask of anybody,” said Barney. “It will be a big relief when it’s all over.”

Fillmore, on the other hand, had a sense of peace going into surgery. “I know it’s meant to be,” she said.

On Friday, Nov. 16, Barney, now 31, and Fillmore had surgery in adjacent operating rooms. Today, they are recovering in their homes, just a couple of miles from each other in Spanish Fork, Utah. “I’m very happy I’ve done it,” said Barney, glad to be back home with his wife and children, and grateful for the care he received at University Hospital. Once he’s recovered, Barney can’t wait to start riding his bike again, take his children hiking, and maybe even catch the end of the ski season.

“I’m so happy that he’s doing well,” said Fillmore. “That was the goal—to get him back to his family.”

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