This National Donate Life Month, we wanted to share an extraordinary story of hope and resilience. Meet George Franklin III, join us in congratulating him on his 46 years with his kidney transplant, and learn how he’s maintained his kidney for all these years.
George Franklin's story
Fresh out of high school, George went to a routine doctor's appointment that changed his life. His care team informed him that he was born with a single kidney, it had failed, and he would need to start dialysis as soon as possible.
George continued in-center hemodialysis for the next three years before receiving his first kidney transplant. Unfortunately, the transplant failed. Tired, and not interested in more surgery, George went back to dialysis.
When another kidney became available in six months, it took his doctor's encouragement for George to change his mind and change his life.
On November 4th, 1975, he received the kidney transplant that would stay with him for 46 years and counting.
Maintaining the kidney transplant
When you come across a remarkable person who has maintained their transplant for so long, you have to ask: What's your secret to maintaining good health?
George’s kidney transplant care tips:
- Take your transplant medicines: Immunosuppressants are medicines that lower the body's ability to reject a transplanted organ and are crucial to maintaining a kidney transplant. George encourages people to stick with their transplants medications regardless of the side effects, saying that they are worth it.
- Get frequent labs: To quickly catch issues with the transplant, people with transplants should get their labs checked frequently. Because George was diligent in getting them, he spotted something off with his monthly labs.
- Don't wait to go to the doctor: George took quick action, calling his doctor immediately after spotting the discrepancy in his labs. His care team discovered that a virus attacked his kidney transplant, taking his kidney function from 75% to 40%. However, George’s quick action prevented things from getting much worse and his kidney is still able to sustain life.
- Enjoy life to the fullest: George shares his hope and optimism as the president of an online transplant recipient club where he encourages people who've lived 25 years with kidney transplants and their donors to celebrate the second chance.
Catching kidney disease early
Since kidney disease has few symptoms early, it's often considered a "silent killer."
"Unless you are doing an annual checkup," said George, "getting blood work, or so forth, you don't know what's going on inside your body. My kidney failed because of glomerulonephritis…not something that generally shows up unless you're having a checkup or some bloodwork."
Early testing and screening are the best ways to catch kidney disease in its early stages.
The importance of organ donation
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, organ donation rates are higher than ever, with over 13,800 deceased donors and more than 6,500 living donations in 2021. Thanks to these people's selfless gifts, others have a chance to live longer, healthier lives.
This is terrific news, but there is still work to do: over 106,000 people are still waiting for their transplants.
Share your story
Do you have a unique or inspiring story about your experience with a kidney transplant, living donation, or kidney disease? Share it with us. Your story may be the one that gives someone hope.