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New kidney, life for Dad

HAPPY to be able to spend more time with his family after spending 15 hours a week in dialysis for nearly seven years, Auburn father of seven, Folio Emelio, 64, was the first of two patients to receive one of the specially-treated donor kidneys in November last year.

A PIONEERING ‘revived’ kidney transplant has given 64-year-old father of seven, Folio Emelio, a new lease on life.
For the past seven years, the Auburn resident spent 15 hours a week at Auburn Hospital for life-saving dialysis.
That all changed after he became the first patient to undergo a kidney transplant utilising a cutting-edge process known as normothermic machine perfusion (NMP), which reverses damage to donated organs.
Transplant nephrologist and deputy director of WIMR’s Centre for Transplant and Renal Research, Associate Professor Natasha Rogers, said while donated kidneys must be preserved in ice, the cold temperature can damage them over many hours.
“In some instances, the damage can be so severe that the kidney does not work after transplantation,” she said.
The NMP process supplies the donated organ with red blood cells, body temperature and oxygen, effectively ‘resuscitating’ kidney cells damaged by exposure to cold or other injury and improving its function.
Doctors at Westmead Hospital with the support of Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR), carried out the life-changing surgery which means kidneys could be safely stored for longer, reducing the need for after-hours surgeries.
Mr Emelio said he had “suffered a lot” over the past seven years and appreciates all that the doctors have done for him.
“This is an opportunity for me to enjoy freedom from dialysis and to help the researchers, and hopefully help more people in the future,” Mr Emelio said.
The results of the first two transplants of a kidney treated with NMP appear promising, with PhD student Dr Ahmer Hameed saying the technique seemed to improve kidney quality over time, “so the kidney worked better and straight away”.
Each year in Australia, more than 800 people receive a transplant due to kidney failure caused by injury or disease, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, with Westmead Hospital performing an average of 120 transplants each year.
To register to become a donor, visit donatelife.gov.au.