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Clinic brings care to transplant patients

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LAFAYETTE— In March, Megan Hill of rural Mulberry was diagnosed with kidney failure due to a rare blood clotting disorder. Her right kidney produces urine — but does not perform the primary function of filtering the blood — and her left kidney does not function at all.

“I am in desperate need of a kidney,” said the 28-year-old woman.

Hill was one of the patients doctors evaluated during a new monthly kidney transplant outreach clinic for adults in Greater Lafayette. Before June, transplant candidates would have to travel to Indiana University Health University Hospital in Indianapolis for their consultation. Now specialists travel to the IU Health Arnett nephrology office in Lafayette.

“It’s extremely convenient; everything else we do is in Lafayette,” Hill told the Journal & Courier.

Dr. Tim Taber, medical director for IU Health’s kidney transplant program, said the goal is “to make transplantation more successful to all of Indiana.”

During the clinics, the specialists evaluate six to eight local patients who are candidates for a kidney transplant. They educate the patients on their options and decide whether a transplant would be the best option for the patient.

All the patients seen during the clinic are typically good candidates for a kidney transplant, Taber said.

Suitable candidates are patients who are healthy enough to survive the procedure, have minimal chances that the disease that caused kidney failure will return and understand the transplant procedure, Taber said.

As of Aug. 10, there are 1,227 people in Indiana waiting to receive a kidney transplant. About one third of those on the waiting list actually receive a kidney transplant, Taber said.

IU Health hosts other kidney transplant clinics in Fort Wayne, South Bend, Merrillville and Evansville.

Relatively healthy before her diagnosis in March, Hill was blindsided by its effects. She just had a baby last September and doctors believe the birth or contraceptive pills may have triggered the blood clotting disorder.

Hill, her husband and her baby moved in with her parents for support. Her kidney disease has been difficult on the entire family.

“It’s been intense (and) confusing,” said her father, Mike Roberts.

Roberts attended the transplant clinic with Hill recently.

Currently, Hill receives hemodialysis three times a week at a local center. But she hopes to find a living donor soon.

“You can be on dialysis the rest of your life,” she said. “Dialysis really wears you down. It’s very tough on your body. The transplant is the end goal. I don’t want to be on dialysis forever. I don’t even want to be on dialysis now.”

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