Kidney Transplant Recipient Finds the Silver Lining in a Difficult Situation

The Jefferson Transplant Institute earned a laudable five out of five star ranking from the Scientific Register of Transplant Recipients (SRTR). The SRTR evaluates the patient survival and organ functionality one year after their transplantation, and then assigns a score of one (the worst) to five (the best). Below is the story of one Transplant Institute kidney transplantation patient.

Jeffrey Masishin’s introduction to the Jefferson Transplant Institute came through his son Michael.

“I ended up at Jefferson because my son was a patient,” Jeffrey explained. “He was diagnosed with ALL [Acute lymphoblastic leukemia] when he was only 18. His doctor at the time said he needed a bone marrow transplant and Jefferson is the place to go.”

Michael and Debbie Masishin

Michael and Debbie Masishin

While his son was battling cancer, Jeffrey was also battling kidney disease. While Michael needed a bone marrow transplant, Jeffrey needed a kidney transplant. Jeffrey said his kidney disease was something he thought he had control over at the time, and he and his wife Debbie were hyper-focused on getting their son healthy again.

Despite the scant odds, test results revealed that Debbie was a match for Michael, and she bravely donated her bone marrow to him. The transplantation was successful and Michael was in remission and feeling healthy in 1999. At this point, Jeffrey was on the verge of needing dialysis. He recalled his son saying, “dad, you need to get healthy now,” and knew that it was time to get his kidney transplant. Two months after his July 2000 transplantation Dr. George Francos, MD, told Jeffrey that the bi-lateral nephrectomy was a record-setting removal because of their “football-like sizes.”

“You’re not going to believe this,” Jeffrey said. “But Debbie was also my kidney donor. Chances are one in a million that you are able to donate bone marrow to your son, and then she turned around and unselfishly said, you can have my kidney. She is a one in a million wife.”

Jeff Masishin and his wife, Debbie

Jeff Masishin and his wife, Debbie

“I’d do it again if I had to,” said Debbie. “I’d go on dialysis to have my husband healthy. Each living with just one kidney is somewhat scary, but Jeff got a good one and mine is doing its job perfectly today. We are blessed.”

Sadly, two months after Jeffrey’s nephrectomy surgery, his son Michael’s cancer returned. Michael Masishin passed away on Labor Day, September 4, 2000.

“Michael’s bone marrow transplant lead me to have the confidence with my transplant at Jefferson,” Jeffrey said. “Even though his outcome was not what we expected, my confidence in Dr. Francos and all his team members has never wavered to this day.”

He said that his relationship with Dr. Francos evolved past doctor and patient. He became a source of comfort during his crisis. “He was there for me beyond my kidney issues,” Jeffrey said. “Jefferson became a special place for my wife and me.”

Today, Jeffrey believes that everything happens for a reason. “Even though I rather have my son with me today, that wasn’t in the master plan,” he said. “If it weren’t for Michael, maybe I would have never found out Jefferson is the place to go. There is a silver lining in even the saddest scenarios. You just have to look for it.”

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