kidney transplant

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - A Jacksonville woman has received a life saving kidney transplant at Memorial Medical Center.

Denise Hickox, 56, will no longer need dialysis sessions to stay alive after being diagnosed with a rare, degenerative kidney disease in 2016.

The kidney came from a deceased donor.

“I went through dialysis four days a week, 3½ hours a day,” she said. “I just really didn’t care if tomorrow came or not. Now, I have energy. I actually feel good about being up, and I’m not tied down to a dialysis chair.”

Memorial, which operates the Alan G. Birtch, MD, Center for Transplant Services in partnership with Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and Springfield Clinic, continued deceased-donor transplants with careful evaluations of each case during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transplants of deceased-donor organs in the United States dropped 50% from late February to early April as many hospitals were overwhelmed caring for COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Marc Garfinkel, an SIU associate professor and surgical director of Memorial’s transplant program, said, “You could argue that we were blessed with enough foresight, based on what was going on in Italy and Asia, to realize what was coming,” he said.

Officials from the transplant program decided to postpone living-donor transplants during the pandemic, but continue transplants from deceased donors because of a severe, chronic shortage of such organs.

“We feel very fortunate to have been able to continue to provide this service while recognizing the regional and national challenges that the pandemic created,” Garfinkel said. “These were important opportunities for people to get off dialysis.”

Twelve kidney transplants have taken place at Memorial since early March.

Hickox is a former child-welfare case aide and former Passavant Area Hospital clerical worker.

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