When Don Musick and his wife Sandy came to the University of Maryland Medical Center in July of 1999 for a laparoscopic kidney removal and transplant, they didn’t imagine that they would be in the same place 10 years later.
A resident of Dayton, Ohio, Musick developed polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which caused his kidneys to fail and required that he receive a transplant. At the time, his local hospital was not performing this procedure laparoscopically and would only perform living donor kidney transplants from immediate relatives; his donor was his wife. When his hospital couldn’t help him, he opted to travel to Maryland to have the procedure performed at UMMC.
Five years later, an aneurysm in Musick’s abdomen was discovered during a routine CT scan. He had a procedure performed to bypass the aneurysm at his local hospital. Soon after the surgery, the function of his transplanted kidney began to steadily decline. Over the following five years, his aorta became obstructed and in December 2008, his kidney was no longer receiving enough blood to function. His hospital told him that he was unable to receive another transplant due to the lack of blood flow to his lower extremities and there was nothing else that could be done surgically. Don was facing a lifetime on dialysis, a sentence he refused to accept.
Hoping to find a solution to his vascular problem, Musick and his wife went directly to the University of Maryland Medical Center Web site. “You get a life-threatening medical condition and you start looking for options. You guys have a great Web site and we look at it all the time. We had never looked into the vascular department before because I didn’t have that problem, but when we did, it was a big help.”
After reading a physician profile and watching a video on Dr. Sarkar, Musick called UMMC and spoke with Dr. Sarkar’s assistant, Theresa. He was pleasantly surprised by Dr. Sarkar’s enthusiasm for his case when he joined the phone conversation. After receiving the medical records, Dr. Sarkar returned his call with a solution a few days later. “I was amazed,” said Musick. I had just talked to this guy a couple of days before and the way that they approached this and just took off was incredible.”
Instead of having Musick come in and be subjected to preliminary testing before having surgery to correct his problem, Dr. Sarkar had him directly admitted and planned to do the surgery just three days later. Musick was also surprised when Dr. Sarkar told him that he may not need a second transplant. He explained that he consulted with Dr. Stephen Bartlett [chief of surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center and chairman of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine] who felt that once blood flow was restored to the lower half of the body, the kidney would likely begin to function again. “It really surprised me because this kidney had been so inactive for so long. In my mind, I couldn’t understand how that would be possible, but I knew his background and it really gave me a lot of hope,” Musick said.
While this happened quickly, Musick knew that Dr. Sarkar was the right surgeon to handle his complex case. “Everything was happening and there was a lot of attention to our situation. By the time I got to UMMC I had a lot of confidence that we could get this taken care of.”
On June 25, 2009, Musick underwent surgery and received an aortobifemoral bypass to direct blood flow around the clogged artery to the lower half of the body and a bilateral nehprectomy to remove his enlarged, polycystic kidneys. In addition, surgeons fixed two small aneurysms found in Musick’s legs. And indeed, after not functioning for six months, the transplanted kidney started working immediately in the operating room.
After surgery, Musick said he felt immediately healthier and was excited that he was able to get up and walk around, something he hadn’t been able to do as a result of the decreased blood flow to his lower body. “The surgery has made me feel restored,” said “Dr. Sarkar is an amazing man, skilled surgeon and an excellent communicator. He saved my life.”
Dr. Sarkar says that Musick has done his part to contribute to the success of the surgery. “I think he has done spectacularly well. He’s certainly done his part in being active before and after the operation. He’s done many of the things you need to do to prepare yourself well for surgery. He has done that very well and with a tremendous amount of motivation. “
Musick’s wife Sandy admits to adopting UMMC, the city of Baltimore and even the Baltimore Orioles. “We’ve had wonderful care and not just in the sense of taking care of needs but real sensitivity and very sincere concern for us. We’ve just had wonderful experiences with everyone here -- the nurses, all the caregivers, and even the people who clean the rooms.”
After having a kidney transplanted and restored ten years later at the Medical Center, Musick feels that “This has just been a tremendous experience. Everything that has been done for us here has been done so well and so professionally. We have been amazed every time. We can’t say enough good things about this hospital because of the way we’ve been treated and the successes we’ve have had.”