How did Loren Littlejohn do it?
How did Loren Littlejohn do it?
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Updated: Monday, 14 May 2012, 8:24 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 14 May 2012, 8:19 PM EDT
DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - A medical breakthrough could save the lives of hundreds of people who live in Dayton. A team of doctors is preparing Miami Valley Hospital to become a world class center for transplants.
Patients will no longer have to travel to three of Ohio's biggest cities for groundbreaking surgery.
For Bobby Hagans, an evening with family means even more lately. The Jefferson Township man, now 42 years old, has struggled with type one diabetes since he was 17.
"When they first diagnosed, didn't take it seriously didn't take care of it. When you are young, you think it's not going to be nothin'. You don't take care of what you should, changing eating habits and stuff," said Bobby Hagans.
Like thousands of other Americans, Hagans ignored the advice to take better care of himself.
Because his pancreas didn't make insulin to convert food into cellular energy, uncontrolled blood sugar took a terrible toll on Hagans' vital organs.
One of the first signs of trouble was nerve damage in his feet. 25 years of damage didn't stop there.
"Lost vision in one eye, this is a prosthetic eye. Accumulation of the diabetes basically the diabetes is what's causing the problems."
Diabetes also made one of Hagans' kidneys fail.
So, on March 18th, doctors at the University of Cincinnati gave Hagans a new kidney and pancreas. The simultaneous transplant saved his life.
It's an hour drive from Jefferson Township and a four to five hour visit each time, which means Hagans and his wife Shirlynn are racking up the miles on I-75.
Enter this husband and wife team. Dr. Brian Stevens and Dr. Lucille Wrenshall joined Miami Valley Hospital's transplant center last January. They plan to create "world class" care that includes pancreas transplants.
This will be a the first in the Dayton region and put our city in the same league with Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland.
"These patients are here and as good as are OSU and Cincinnati are and they are very good, patients don't want to go," said Dr. Brian Stevens.
"Pancreas only" transplants are tricky procedures.
The American Diabetes Association says half of patients reject them.. so, hometown care is just another way to ensure patients survive and thrive.
"If they only have to drive less likely to miss appointments, bring in quickly if they need to do better when have services in their hometown," said Dr. Wrenshall.
How crucial is quality transplant care? The National Kidney Foundation says 90 percent of patients like Hagans who get a "simultaneous" kidney-pancreas transplant, survive 2 years.
Since the transplant and associated care costs about 141-thousand dollars, and organs are scarce, doctors Stevens and Wrenshall say they will do everything in their power to build a premier transplant center in Dayton.
"The physicians here want to continue taking care of these patients and partner with a group in its community. It's very simple.. the city is large enough, the area is large enough, this part of the country is large enough to support pancreas and kidney transplantation."
The transplant took Bobby Hagans off kidney dialysis. He is no longer diabetic.
Today, he counts his blessings, knowing full well he has a new lease on life.
Doctors Stevens and Wrenshall hope to do their first pancreas transplants next year.
They will also teach at Wright State, researching ways to prevent organ rejection, one of the biggest obstacles to successful transplants.
It is a great opportunity for a call to action.
Organ donors are still all too rare. 20 people die each day who are waiting for organs.