In 2002, Anthony Reese was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disorder which can attack the joints, tendons and organs. Because Anthony wasn’t seeing his primary care physician with any regularity, it was a quick downward spiral. “It appears that the lupus attacked my kidneys,” he said. “Hindered kidneys resulted in high blood pressure, I was totally oblivious to my high blood pressure – I had no symptoms. No dizziness, headaches — nothing.”
The disease led him to kidney failure in 2010. “The months preceding my kidney failure were very stressful and lupus flares typically take place during high stress periods,” said Anthony. As a result, he was placed on dialysis and the transplant waiting list.
Anthony received his dialysis at a center in Southern New Jersey, where he was made aware that he could be listed on the organ registry in multiple states. Anthony selected some hospitals in Philadelphia, and scheduled appointments to visit. The first appointment happened to be Jefferson. “Immediately, Jefferson became my choice. My home,” said Anthony. So sure of this, Anthony transferred his New Jersey waitlist time to Philadelphia, and his accumulated days to Jefferson. “I believe this was one of my better decisions.”
After four years of waiting, Anthony’s transplant took place November 15, 2014. “People needing transplants typically wait an average of four to five years once placed on the registry,” said surgeon Ashesh Shah, M.D., who performed Anthony’s transplant.
Anthony’s transplant care team comprises 10 surgeons and nephrologists, including Dr. Shah, a designated transplant social worker, a transplant dietitian, a pre-transplant coordinator, a post-transplant and a designated transplant financial coordinator. “My surgery and follow-up care have been seamless,” he says. “The fact that my medical lab work and all other transplant functions are provided within one building is time-efficient, weather friendly and very convenient…and the staff is top notch.” Having a multidisciplinary team he says, allowed Anthony to focus on his family, financial planning practice and recovery in general, especially going to the gym. “The team knew returning to the gym was very important to me,” he said. “They gave me the green-light on February 9th, I was in the gym February 10th…I feel great!”
According to Dr. Shah, Anthony’s prognosis is very good. “It’s important that people realize that it’s the donor’s gift that helps us change people like Anthony’s lives,” says Dr. Shah.
April is Donate Life Month and we encourage you to become an organ donor and give the gift of hope to the more than 120,000 people in the United States waiting for a transplant.