Transplant recipient doing well after 3 years


Davey Miller, of Loganton, will never forget what his father did for him three years ago.

And how could he?

Dave Miller, 53, gave his son the gift of life by donating to him his kidney.

Davey, 23, was suffering from alport syndrome, a rare congenital condition that caused him to go into kidney failure.

Affecting about one in 5,000 Americans, alport syndrome is caused by a defect in one or more genes located on the X chromosome.

His only other choice other than a transplant was to undergo regular dialysis treatments.

Dialysis is used to rid the body’s blood of urea, a waste product that interferes with normal metabolic processes. Damaged or diseased kidneys often cannot process urea, causing the accumulation of toxic chemicals and leading to uremia.

“When he started to experience renal failure in 2009, they made a decision to put him on lists for cadaver and living donors,” his father recalled.

Securing a donor match can be difficult and entails being put on a waiting list for an organ that is the right match for the recipient.

Since a living donor and that of a relative would be the best match, Dave figured the decision was easy.

“I will admit to you I had some reservations,” he said. “(But) As part of being a parent, there isn’t anything at all I wouldn’t do for him.”

Davey said his big reservation was that his father might suffer physically for his choice.

He was hoping to just receive a cadaver kidney to make it easy for everyone.

The transplant operation was successfully performed by Drs. Anil Kotru and Dr. Chintalapati Varma at Geisinger Medical Center.

Since then, everything has worked out.

Davey was first diagnosed with kidney problems when he was 6 years old.

Over time, his condition worsened.

Davey couldn’t even hold a job a few years ago.

But his physical problems went beyond that.

“I would get really tired. Before the transplant I was turning pale white. I lost some of my hearing and sight,” he said.

He remembered only wanting to sleep.

Eating had no appeal to him, and he ended up shedding between 60 and 70 pounds.

Now, he has a full-time job working security at Jersey Shore Steel.

“I feel great about it,” he said. “I got my energy back.”

For his father, there were some initial after-effects from giving up a kidney, but nothing life-threatening.

He recalled the kidney he still has becoming enlarged.

But after six weeks, he was pretty much back to his normal life.

He works full time as an environmental technician, but also does taxidermy and landscaping on the side.

And he has no regrets about giving up a kidney.

It meant, he said, the end of his son’s health battles.

“I don’t now how to tell you how elated it felt to do that,” he said.

These days, Davey still has to be careful about what he does.

His days of rough-housing are over.

I’m not allowed to play sports or anything,” he said. “The kidney is only 2 inches underneath my skin. I have to watch it doesn’t get hit. It’s right by my belly button.”

Now, Davey is looking forward to his next phase of life.

He and his girlfriend are expecting their first child.