Kidney donation gives Davenport man a second chance

Lifelong friends Mary Beth Murray and Eric Burge, of Davenport, Iowa

Eric Burge of Davenport, Iowa, is no stranger to the world of organ transplantation. Eric’s brother, John, received a kidney transplant just a few years prior to Eric discovering he needed a transplant as well.

Eric and John have an inherited disorder called polycystic kidney disease. It is the most common hereditary disease in the U.S., affecting more than 700,000 people each year. Many cases require an organ transplant due to the formation of cyst clusters in the kidneys that destroy healthy tissue.

Alan Reed, MD, speaking at a lectern

Alan Reed, MD, director of UI Organ Transplant Center at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, says many individuals with polycystic kidney disease need a transplant but tend to have a very favorable prognosis.

Luckily, when Eric started having health issues, his lifelong friend, Mary Beth Murray, had a special connection with organ donation and was willing to help.

Mary Beth, who also lives in Davenport, decided to become an organ donor because of her father’s kidney issues when she was younger. Although she desperately wanted to help, Mary Beth was not a compatible match and unable to donate to her father.

When Mary Beth’s older sister faced the same kidney issues years later, Mary Beth once again was not a compatible match and unable to donate to her sister.

Unwilling to give up, Mary Beth was determined to help Eric when she discovered he needed a kidney transplant. This time around, Mary Beth was able to donate to her friend in need.

On Jan. 3, 2013, Reed performed Eric’s kidney transplant.

Since his transplant, Eric’s care has been managed by UI Post Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Coordinator Lou Ann Reynolds, RN. Reynolds stresses the importance of becoming an organ donor.

“Whether it’s for a friend, a workmate, or a total stranger, I would tell people they have the ability to change another person’s life,” Reynolds says.

To Eric, a kidney transplant meant a second chance at life.

“As a recipient, there’s no way to thank [my donor] to that magnitude,” Eric says.