After enduring back pain almost his entire adult life, Bob Miller started to feel run-down at age 50. When the pain became unbearable, he made a doctor’s appointment and discovered he had polycystic kidney disease.
Unfortunately, no cure exists for polycystic kidney disease. Instead, patients take pain medication and eventually receive dialysis. While on dialysis, patients begin the wait for a kidney transplant.
“I ended up in the emergency room several times due to excruciating pain,” Mr. Miller says. “And, I had to leave my job as maintenance supervisor at an aircraft company earlier than I hoped, requiring me to go on disability.”
Mr. Miller had looked forward to a retirement filled with helping people in his community with various projects and completing short mission trips with his church. Although he did manage to take two mission trips to Santiago, Chile, limited funds and ill health required him to scale back his plans.
Eventually, his doctor advised him to consider beginning dialysis and searching for a kidney donor.
“Friends of ours highly recommended the Cleveland Clinic to us,” Mr. Miller says. “Even though we live in New York, we decided to make the trip to Cleveland and stay with friends.”
Cleveland Clinic staff initiated the search for a kidney immediately. Thankfully, a kidney turned up almost instantly. Mr. Miller’s daughter, Chris, expressed a desire to donate her kidney and underwent testing for a tissue and blood match. In the meantime, Mr. Miller’s health continued to deteriorate – his kidneys weighed 10 lbs. apiece, overlapping onto his stomach and destroying his appetite. Shortly before he would have started dialysis, Mr. Miller learned that his daughter’s kidney was an excellent match.
Both father and daughter were scheduled for surgery on December 11, 2002. Chris’ kidney was removed laparoscopically; but it had several renal artery aneurysms – weakened arteries that can burst, causing severe bleeding and even death. Cleveland Clinic Surgeon Stuart Flechner, MD repaired the aneurysms, and transplanted the kidney successfully into Bob.
“I was supposed to be in the hospital for two weeks,” Mr. Miller explains. “But, I really wanted to attend my wife’s office Christmas party. Thankfully, I was released well ahead of schedule and made it to the party.”
Since his surgery, Mr. Miller has been living the retirement he always imagined. He purchased a pick-up truck and has been busy helping neighbors in need with handyman projects.
“I’ve been feeling great,” he says. “Just amazing. In the recovery room, I knew I was better right away. I didn’t need any pain medications in the recovery room, and I haven’t needed any since.”