For Dan Wiley of Fort Worth, Veteran’s Day each year has special meaning. Both he and his eldest son, Danny, are Army vets. Just before Veteran’s Day three years ago, Dan received a life-transforming transplant with a kidney donated by his son, who was on Army active duty at the time. In addition, the transplant was the very first one performed at the Fort Worth Transplant Institute at Medical City Fort Worth.
“Danny was about to deploy for his second tour to Afghanistan,” the elder Wiley recalled. “I guess I got him out of that,” he added with a smile.
Dan had been struggling with kidney problems for several years when his health took a turn for the worse, and doctors advised him to consider a transplant from a family member. Transplants involving relatives are often faster than waiting for a cadaver donor and offer better long-term survival and a reduced risk of rejection.
Dr. George Rofaiel, surgical director for kidney transplantation at the Fort Worth Transplant Institute, recalls there was quite a bit of military red tape to get Danny the medical leave required to donate a kidney to his father. Everything worked out, and both father and son are doing well today. Both returned to work about eight weeks after the transplant – Danny back to the Army and Dan to a professional training job where he is a frequent flyer.
The Fort Worth Transplant Institute at Plaza Medical has transplanted more than 100 kidneys since Wiley’s transplant. The Plaza program also has the shortest wait time in the United States for a patient to get a kidney transplant, with an average wait time of 6.9 months.