The Birmingham, Alabama VA Medical Center recently joined six other VA hospitals around the country in performing kidney transplants
Army Veteran William Terrell of Keysville, Georgia, received a new kidney on Jan. 5 to become the hospital’s first transplant patient since it started its transplant program in 2013. The transplant program’s key link is VA’s academic affiliation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham where doctors practice at both facilities – bringing specialized knowledge to VA while providing firsthand experience to their students.
With the transplant, Birmingham joins Portland, Oregon; Houston, Texas; Iowa, City, Iowa; Nashville, Tennessee; Bronx, New York; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as VA facilities that perform kidney transplants. Birmingham fills a relatively large geographic gap for Veterans needing a transplant.
“Traveling to one of the other sites can be costly and difficult for patients, as well as taking them far away from their homes and family” said Kimberly Rowley, transplant administrator for the Birmingham VA Hospital.
After eight years on dialysis, Terrell and his wife were thrilled to get the call and amazed that it took less than a year on the transplant list to find a match.
“We really prayed for this,” Maggie Terrell told AL.com. “God delivers in his own time. We really thought it would be two or three years down the road.”
During his initial recovery, members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart presented Terrell a gift in celebration of not only his transplant, but the many more to come to other Veterans at the Birmingham VA Medical Center. The hospital receives up to two referrals a week.