UNC professor who received kidney from coworker in need of second transplant

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- A professor at UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Medicine finds herself back on the transplant list after receiving a kidney transplant from her coworker 15 years ago.

Dr. Elizabeth Crais said she and her colleague Linda Watson both knew back in 2004 that donated organs don't last forever and the kidney wouldn't either.

About a year ago, Crais, who was born with polycystic kidney disease and has become a big advocate for living organ donation, started to notice her kidney function was getting worse.

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She's experienced frequent urinary tract infections, anemia, shingles and severe colds.

Several family members were eager to become her next donor, but last week Crais got a call from the transplant coordinator.

"Went through the list and said, 'We've ruled out your brother-in-law. No, your husband also can't donate and neither of your children can,'" Crais said. "It really hit me like, oh my gosh, here I thought one of these folks is gonna work out."

In one phone call, Crais learned of her four potential kidney donors, she had none at all.

She's now getting the port to begin dialysis while she goes back on the waiting list.
She sent an email to her network of colleagues and friends, letting them know that once again, she's hoping someone will be a match.

"It was so heartwarming and it's probably gonna make me teary," Crais said. "Within about 30 minutes, five people responded and said what do you have to do? What do you need to do to be an organ donor?"

Right now in North Carolina, 2,862 people are awaiting a kidney transplant, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Dr. David Gerber, Medical Director of UNC Health Care Center for Transplant Care, estimates that between 5-10 percent of kidney transplants are second transplants.

Crais hopes that soon, she will be among that 5-10 percent.

"It's such a gift," she said. "I mean, oh my gosh, I could never repay Linda or hopefully this next donor. It's such a gift."

You can find more information about being a living organ donor here.
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