Not everyone who needs a new kidney can get one. Finding a match can be difficult, waiting lists long.
For M. Scott True, M.D., a physician at Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Consultants in Middletown, who was suffering kidney failure, time was running out.
What he didn’t know was that a kidney matching his was sitting right down the hall in the form of Scott Albright, M.D., (’03) a Wright State University graduate who had worked closely with True for five years.
The events unfolded in 2011, when True announced to the office staff that he was having renal failure, would be off work for doctor’s appointments, was looking for a kidney donor, and expected it was going to be “a bumpy ride.”
In the midst of what was becoming an unsuccessful search for a donor, True casually mentioned to Albright that his blood type was O positive. Albright replied that his was the same and immediately volunteered to undergo tests at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati to see whether his kidney might be a match.
“I was willing,” he said. “I told my wife well beforehand... that ‘if I’m a match, I’m going to do it.’ She said, ‘You’ve got to.’”
Rotation leads to love of sports medicine
Albright’s presence at Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Consultants was really a chance occurrence.
The boyish-looking 35-year-old with straw-colored hair and oval, wire-rimmed glasses grew up in the tiny western Ohio town of Covington. He attended the Kettering College of Medical Arts, obtained his bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University and then went to Wright State for medical school, initially thinking he wanted to go into cardiology.
But during one of his rotations in Dayton, he worked with a sports medicine physician and fell in love with that area of health care. After finishing his residency, he received a flier in the mail from Middletown’s Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Consultants looking for a doctor who wanted to do “100 percent sports medicine.”
He treats fractures, sprains, torn ligaments, “everything under the sun.” “Making people feel better when they come out of the office,” he says, “that’s the gratifying part of it.”
But it can be a lot of work. Fifty-hour work weeks and eating lunch at his desk is the norm. Albright’s wife is a hospitalist with a busy schedule, and the couple has a 10-month-old son.
A perfect match
The fateful telephone call from Christ Hospital on the results of his bloodwork came to Albright in his office.
A moment later, True walked by and waved for Albright to follow him to a conference room, where unknown to Albright a surprise party to celebrate his recently born son was about to begin.
Instead, Albright pulled True into his office.
“I’m a perfect match,” Albright told True.
“He was floored,” Albright recalled. “He was not expecting it at all. He was quite elated.”
Finding a match in kidney transplantation is essential so that the recipient’s body does not reject the donated kidney.
Matching involves a complex series of tests that take into account blood and tissue type. In addition, a labora - tory technique called crossmatch - ing is used to determine how a transplant recipient may respond to certain cells or proteins of the donor.
A kidney does not have to be a perfect match to be transplanted successfully, but a donated kidney that is a perfect match typically survives significantly longer. Usually, a perfect match is from a brother or sister.
Albright was nervous about the surgery. He worried about the risks of general anesthesia. He worried that his one remaining kidney wouldn’t work. But he was determined to help his colleague.
On Aug. 2, 2011, the surgeries occurred back to back in adjoining operating rooms, with Albright’s left kidney removed and transplanted to True.
Albright was in the hospital for a couple of days, while True was there for more than a week. Albright described the post-opera - tive pain as pretty intense.
Albright returned to work in two weeks, which he now admits was probably as much as a month too soon. He said the early return prolonged his recovery time and forced him to cut back on his schedule.
“I couldn’t walk upright for the first three weeks,” he said.
The transplant has created a special bond between the two doctors. They even joke about it, with Albright reminding True to drink plenty of fluids to keep Albright’s kidney healthy.
“For Dr. True, I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Albright said. “There was pain, but well worth it. He’s healthy again. I was glad I was able to help him out.”