Kidney Donor and Father Visit Transplant Patients on Anniversary
Ask Cindy Clouse if she has any regrets about donating a kidney to her father at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and she’ll tell you she has just one: her scar’s too small.
“Dr. Jendrisak came in to look at it [after the surgery], and when he took off the bandage, he said, ‘That’s beautiful,’” Clouse said. “I was so mad. I wanted a big, red, zig-zag scar. Now, after a year, you can hardly see it!”
Clouse admits she’s not really upset about her “baby” scar. And any scar at all is worth the good health her father has enjoyed since the transplant on Aug. 23, 2007, she said.
Clouse and her father, Reverend Charles Chatman, of St. Charles, MO, were at Barnes-Jewish Aug. 27 to celebrate the first anniversary of their procedure by visiting pre- and post-transplant patients to share encouragement and hope.
By the time of the transplant, Chatman had been on dialysis for 10 months. He had cut back on his many activities and had virtually stopped leading mission trips abroad.
The effects of the transplant were dramatic and immediate. Clouse’s kidney began working in her father’s body as soon as it was transplanted. Chatman said he started feeling better shortly after the operation. He hasn’t been ill since the transplant and has been able to travel again – to Alaska to visit his son, and to Ukraine and Jamaica on church trips – in the last several months.
While visiting at Barnes-Jewish Aug. 27, Clouse carried a small photo album documenting the surgery. Its pages show Clouse and Chatman in the hospital before and after surgery, visiting each other and walking the halls arm-in-arm two days after surgery.
“I look a fright in that picture,” Clouse says pointing to a photo of the two of them in hospital gowns and slippers. “My dad told me not to show it to the patients because it might scare the patients.”
Among those Clouse and Chatman visited in the hospital was Cathy Page, of Palmyra, MO, who had donated a kidney to her mother, Jacke Denish, the day before, and Patrick Gannon, of St. Louis, who was scheduled to give a kidney to his brother the next day.
“They were the sweetest people,” Page said after the visit. “I really enjoyed meeting them.”
Clouse shared her scar story with Page, and the two commiserated about the soreness that donors feel as the result of being motionless on their sides for about five hours during the surgery.
Gannon, too, said he appreciated the words of encouragement from Chatman and Clouse, although he wasn’t worried about undergoing donor surgery.
“I’m not really scared,” he said. “This is just something you do if you’re family.”
Jean Bowe, RN, of the Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, served as Clouse’s pre-transplant coordinator. Visitors like Clouse and Chatman are rare on the transplant floor, but most welcome, Bowe said.
“For some reason, not many patients come back,” she said. “But when they do, it really means a lot to the people who are going through [a transplant]. I think it helps them to see someone else who knows what they’re going through.”
Clouse said it meant a lot to her to be able to share the anniversary with fellow transplant patients.
“When my dad called me up and asked what I wanted to do for the anniversary, I said I wanted to do this,” Clouse said. “I thought I could do something for just myself, but I would enjoy doing something for other transplant patients so much more.”
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