By Jackie Burtnett, UPMC Revenue Cycle Coordinator
On May 3, John Milcic, a Corporate Revenue Cycle employee, gave a gift unlike any other to his long-time friend and co-worker Rosemarie Davis — the gift of life through the donation of his kidney. In the early months of 2012, Rosemarie’s doctor started to closely monitor her kidney function. Her kidney was failing at a rapid rate. Due to the progression of her acute kidney failure, it was decided that Rosemarie, known to many around the office as Ro, would need to receive a kidney transplant.
"When I found out that I would need a transplant
, I was scared to death," said Ro. "The thought of taking anti-rejection drugs the rest of my life, the side effects, the cost, the possibility of rejection was all very daunting. But I wanted my life back. I decided to go forward with the transplant."
After learning of his friend’s condition, John immediately decided that he would get tested to see if he might possibly be a match. Only 8 percent of all kidney transplants that occurred in 2006 were due to a living, unrelated donor, while over 64 percent were the result of a deceased donor. Statistically speaking, the chances that John would be a match were relatively small, but neither of them gave up hope. In fact, they both say that they "had an extremely strong feeling" that John would be the match they were looking for.
A few days before Christmas, they received the news that John was in fact an identical candidate to be Ro’s kidney donor.
"Although the doctors knew we worked for UPMC
, they also thought we were brother and sister due to our close blood and tissue match," John recalled.
As expected, the day of the surgery was tense as Ro’s mind was filled with thoughts of the long recovery period, the anesthesia, and the many doctor appointments to follow. But Ro gives all the credit in the world to the never-ending support of her family and friends as well as to her doctor, Dr. Ron Shapiro.
"I cannot thank the transplant team enough,” said Ro. "The doctors and my coordinator are the best in the business. They are so involved in every aspect of my care. I truly feel I could not have had better care anywhere."
John seconded her opinion on the care that was received during the transplant stay.
"I am so very grateful that the wonderful care of our transplant teams returned our beloved Rose to her good old self," said John.
John and Ro are both doing well now.
"I am feeling stronger and better each day. My doctor is very pleased with my recovery," said Ro."They say I am doing fantastic. The kidney started to function immediately. I am still under the transplant team’s close care."
John was a bit more light-hearted regarding his current condition.
“I feel great — other than the loss of my hair which is not due to the transplant," he said."The doctors said that I have the internal body of a 30-year-old. I went home from the hospital and went on with my life."
John and Ro began working together in 1990 at UPMC St. Margaret. They became fast, close friends but never could have imagined the wonderful gift of life that John would be able to provide 23 years later. Two other UPMC employees and close friends also offered to be tested, which speaks volumes about the type of employees that work for the Corporate Revenue Cycle.
As of March 2013, approximately 120,000 children and adults are awaiting organ transplants in the United States, according to the Donate Life website. To learn more about organ donation, please visit www.donatelife.net