UCHealth performs first transplant surgery on Porter patient after program is suspended

DENVER -- UCHealth has operated on the first transplant patient to come over from Porter Adventist after Porter temporarily suspended its transplant program in July.

Billie Mills is recuperating after she received a kidney transplant in August, donated by her daughter Jayd Wells.

The mother-daughter duo had originally scheduled the transplant through Porter Adventist Hospital, but 13 days before the surgery, they were notified that Porter had voluntarily suspended its transplant services.

More than 200 patients were told to find another hospital.

Jayd remembers the call.

“It was almost to where you are throwing up. You are just nauseous thinking about what do we do from here? Thirteen days away from surgery and now what?” she said.

The Porter patients were told to contact one of the two hospitals in the area offering transplant services, either Presbyterian St. Luke’s or UCHealth Transplant Centers.

Mills worried her timetable would be pushed back dramatically.

“We knew that there were a lot of patients from Porter.  With  only having two choices around the area, the other two facilities are going to be packed with people, and so we had no idea how long it might take,” Mills said.

But, it didn’t take long.  The family contacted the UCHealth Transplant Center in the beginning of July, and were able to schedule a date for surgery on August 15.

Billie was the first Porter patient to get a transplant at UCHealth, but more than 170 Porter patients have contacted that facility.

The Transplant Center at Presbyterian St. Luke’s also continues to see a significant increase in patient referrals.

“Volumes have risen more than 50 percent since the month of July. We have been able to successfully accommodate these patients by increasing our staffing levels and appointment availability. We welcome all patients to our program and will work with each individually as they continue to pursue transplantation,” said Alyssa Johnston, vice president of transplant services at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s.

Porter is in the process of rebuilding its transplant program. That process could take up to a year.

Billie Mills is grateful that the Porter patients are being accommodated.

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