How collaborative care and a social-media post led to a life-saving transplant

Tom Adams, a kidney transplant recipient, stands in front of a fountain at UK King's Daughters.

In December 2019, Tom Adams learned he had liver and kidney damage. He was told both a liver and kidney transplant were necessary to save his life. 

The hepatology and pathology teams at UK HealthCare coordinated care with UK King’s DaughtersDr. Melinda Elkins-Smith, a family care physician, and nephrologist Dr. Charbel Salem, to biopsy Tom's liver to find the underlying cause of his issues. He was diagnosed with a rare, but reversible liver disease. 

Following a short course of medications, Tom's liver tests improved. With half the battle conquered, Adams continued to receive local care for his advanced kidney disease while the providers at King’s Daughters and UK HealthCare remained in close contact. In 2023, Tom reached the point where a kidney transplant was imperative. His team at UK HealthCare saw him within the next week and cleared him for the transplant. They guided him through the entire process.

“They told me it’s a five to seven year wait on the donor list and said the best thing to do is to find a living donor,” said Adams, 64.

Finding a match

Tom's family members were not able to pass the initial screening to become donors. His children took to social media in hopes of spreading the word.  

Rodney Mullannix, a retired firefighter from Lexington, saw the request and reached out to Tom. After rounds of testing, Mullannix turned out to be a perfect match. 

“I really thought I was going to have to do dialysis and that’s a tough life to live ... that news was a showstopper,” Tom said. 

Tom's kidney transplant, performed by Dr. Siddharth Desai, happened on July 25, 2023. The evening following his surgery, Tom had normal kidney function levels. 

“I’m feeling better than I have in five years,” said Tom, noting he’s had minimal complications since his transplant. 

Upon reflection, Tom noted how the collaboration between UK King’s Daughters and UK HealthCare made a life-altering diagnosis smoother to navigate. 

“This is an example of how the medical teams working together at both facilities blended together to take care of the patient and the patient’s needs ... there hasn’t been a bump,” he said. 

Tom was a paramedic for 40 years and served as the director of Boyd County Emergency Medical Services for 13 years. He now works as a driver for UK King’s Daughters van ministry program, which provides transportation to those in need. 

Tom Adams, a transplant recipient, stands in front of a UK King's Daughters transportation van.

This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.

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