Final Father’s Day reward: Son donates kidney to save lots of his dad’s life

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Some dads may get reward playing cards, steak dinners or new golf golf equipment for Father’s Day.

But Jose Calixto, 56, acquired one thing much more important for the event this yr.

Just a few weeks in the past, Jonathan Calixto, 30, saved his father’s life by donating a wholesome kidney.

“I by no means hesitated,” the son advised Fox Information Digital.

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Forward of Father’s Day weekend, father and son revealed how the operation modified their lives.

Simple resolution

Jose Calixto, a porter at a New York Metropolis constructing, realized he had kidney illness throughout a routine bodily 10 years in the past — an impact of medicines he took when he was youthful, he stated. 

He was capable of stay with the illness with out intervention for a number of years, however his situation took a flip for the more serious in mid-2021. Calixto was compelled to start out dialysis, a therapy that removes waste and toxins from the blood when the kidneys can’t do the job.

Jose and Jonathan Calixto

Jonathan Calixto, 30 (left), donated a kidney to his dad, Jose Calixto, 56 (proper), on March 29, 2023. Fox Information Digital spoke to father and son about how the operation modified their lives. (Jose and Jonathan Calixto)

After two years of receiving dialysis 3 times per week, for 4 hours per session, Calixto had turn into so frail and exhausted that he was compelled to retire from his job, he advised Fox Information Digital. 

Regardless of the dialysis, Calixto’s kidneys had been persevering with to fail. In the end, he was hospitalized.

A transplant was his solely choice for long-term survival.

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On the time, Jonathan Calixto didn’t know a lot about what it meant to be a kidney donor, however the resolution to donate to his father was a no brainer for him, he stated.

“Dwelling donors actually have the flexibility to alter a recipient’s life in a dramatic approach.”

To find out if the daddy and son had been a match, they each needed to undergo a litany of checks at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York Metropolis, which has a devoted transplant heart for kidney donors and recipients.  

Step one was to search out out whether or not the donor’s and recipient’s blood sorts had been suitable.

This ensured the recipient would not instantly reject the kidney when it was positioned within the physique, defined Dr. Vinita Sehgal, Jose Calixto’s main kidney doctor at Mount Sinai.

Jose and Jonathan Calixto

Jose Calixto (left) and Jonathan Calixto are pictured at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on the morning of their surgical procedure. (Jose and Jonathan Calixto)

“When a donor and a recipient would not have suitable blood sorts — for instance, if a donor with blood sort A needs to present a kidney to a recipient with blood sort B — a paired change, or ‘swap,’ may be organized with one other donor-recipient pair,” Dr. Sehgal defined to Fox Information Digital.

Subsequent, they did a histocompatability check, which checks to see if the pair’s tissues match. 

There was a 50% probability the Calixtos would have a tissue match.

This check appears at human leukocyte antigens (HLAs), molecules that make up an individual’s tissue sort.

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“A baby to a guardian is a 3/6 antigen match, which is a greater match than different, non-related donors,” defined Elaine Mitchell, Mount Sinai’s residing donor transplant coordinator. 

Which means there was a 50% probability the Calixtos would have a tissue match.

Dr. Antonios Arvelakis, Jose Calixto’s multi-organ transplant surgeon at Mount Sinai, stated he sees instances the place kids donate to folks and the place mother and father give to kids.

Jose and Rosario Calixto

Jose Calixto is pictured on his fifty fifth birthday together with his spouse, Rosario Calixto, in New York. (Jose Calixto)

“That is the perfect situation versus getting a donor from a non-relative, as a result of they’re usually higher matched resulting from relation,” he defined to Fox Information Digital. 

Lastly, the Calixtos needed to do a serum cross-match, which is when the donor’s blood is blended with the recipient’s to verify there aren’t any antibodies that might outcome within the recipient’s immune system’s rejection of the transplant.

“Typically, particularly when persons are blood family members, they could be very related genetically, and should even be what is known as a ‘excellent match,’” Sehgal stated. “This implies their immune system is much less more likely to reject the brand new kidney.”

“For me, it was by no means a query. I knew that if I might get the prospect, I needed to do it.”

In February 2023, the Calixtos acquired the nice information: Father and son had been a match on all fronts. The docs gave the inexperienced gentle for the donation course of to start. 

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Over the following few weeks, the Calixtos every met with their groups of transplant surgeons and coordinators to make sure that each males had been wholesome and absolutely dedicated to the method.

Medical doctors repeatedly requested Calixto’s son whether or not he was positive he needed to undergo the organ donation.

Jose Calixto the morning of surgery

Dad Jose Calixto is proven on the morning of his transplant surgical procedure at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York Metropolis. (Jose Calixto)

“They requested me so many occasions: ‘Are you positive? Do you actually need to do that? Are you apprehensive about something?’” the son stated. 

“However for me, it was by no means a query. I knew that if I might get the prospect, I needed to do it.”

Together with his profession as a media host and editor simply beginning to take off, the youthful Calixto knew the surgical procedure might probably gradual his progress — however serving to his dad grew to become his foremost focus.

“Jonathan was dedicated to his father from the very starting and did something essential to donate to him,” stated Mitchell of Mount Sinai.

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For Jose Calixto’s half, he was “not on board” initially, his son advised Fox Information Digital.

“He didn’t like the thought of somebody giving up a chunk of their physique, particularly his son — it felt prefer it was going to chop my life in half, in a way,” Jonathan Calixto stated. “So he was hesitant about shifting ahead at first.” 

Calixto grew to become extra comfy with the thought — however was nonetheless extra involved about his son’s well being than his personal.

With extra time and analysis, Calixto grew to become extra comfy with the thought, however was nonetheless extra involved about his son’s well being than his personal.

Any kidney transplant comes with a point of dangers — together with bleeding, an infection, graft failure and unfavourable reactions to the drugs, transplant surgeon Arvelakis stated. 

Jose and Jonathan Calixto

Jose and Jonathan Calixto are proven arriving at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York Metropolis on the morning of the transplant surgical procedure. (Jose and Jonathan Calixto)

However for the Calixtos, the docs described the process — which occurred on March 29 — as “easy crusing.”

“Jonathan and Jose had no main issues — they each did very properly,” Mitchell stated.

“Donors often have a tough time initially, as they’re coming from a wholesome place to undergo surgical procedure.”

Added Mitchell, “Recipients often really feel higher at first, however the therapeutic course of is extra of a curler coaster, as they take medicine to forestall rejection and want monitoring twice weekly, initially.”

Calixto’s son was discharged the very subsequent day with no points, whereas Calixto got here dwelling three days after the surgical procedure. His physique accepted the donated kidney with no important issues.

Recipients are monitored very intently after surgical procedure, Mitchell stated — twice per week for the primary month, as soon as per week for the second month and often as soon as a month for the primary yr. 

Throughout these appointments, the docs examine bloodwork to verify the kidney is functioning correctly and make any crucial changes to drugs.

For the donors, post-surgery checkups are often scheduled at six weeks, six months, one yr and two years, when docs will examine blood strain, weight, bloodwork and urine. 

“Most individuals who obtain a kidney transplant are capable of stay regular lives so long as they take their drugs, comply with up with transplant groups and take precautions.”

After the two-year mark, donors ought to get annual checkups with their main care doctor, Mitchell stated.

“Most individuals who obtain a kidney transplant are capable of stay regular lives so long as they take their drugs, comply with up with their transplant groups and take sure precautions,” stated Sehgal.

‘One other probability at life’

Two months post-surgery, Calixto and his son are each recovering properly and feeling good, they advised Fox Information Digital.

Calixto is totally off dialysis for the primary time in two years and is predicted to make a full restoration in about six months.

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Together with his new kidney, Calixto is now not weak and exhausted. His power and urge for food have skyrocketed, and he’s beginning to resume a number of the actions he couldn’t do whereas he was on dialysis, he stated. 

Most significantly, he has hope once more — hope that he’ll stay an extended and wholesome life, and that he’ll finally be capable to return to work, he added.

“I’ve been given one other probability at life,” Calixto stated.

Within the meantime, Calixto’s son has returned to work and is feeling “again to regular,” he stated.

‘Dwelling donors are heroes’

For individuals affected by end-stage kidney illness like Calixto, kidney transplantation is the best-case situation, Sehgal stated.

“Whereas individuals can stay with dialysis therapies for a few years, they usually stay for much longer, and are more healthy, with a kidney transplant,” she advised Fox Information Digital. 

“Staying on dialysis long-term will increase individuals’s dangers of coronary heart illness, circulatory issues, debility [weakness] and demise.” 

The wait time for a cadaver kidney (a donation from a deceased individual) is usually between 4 and eight years within the New York space — and nationally, as much as half of individuals on the ready checklist will die with out ever receiving a transplant, Sehgal identified. 

“Dwelling donors actually have the flexibility to alter a recipient’s life in a dramatic approach,” she stated.

“They’re heroes who’re really giving the reward of life.”

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About half the kidney transplants which can be carried out at Mount Sinai every year come from residing donors, she added.

For different households affected by kidney failure, Jose and Jonathan Calixto wholeheartedly encourage donation as a life-saving and life-changing resolution.

Jonathan and Jose Calixto

“If in case you have a cherished who’s going by means of kidney failure or is on dialysis, possibly you may be the one who offers them one other probability at life,” Jose Calixto stated. “I understand how a lot it has meant to me.” (Jonathan and Jose Calixto)

“If in case you have a cherished who’s going by means of kidney failure or is on dialysis, possibly you may be the one who offers [that person] one other probability at life,” Calixto stated. “I understand how a lot it has meant to me.”

Each father and son are exceedingly grateful for the care they acquired at Mount Sinai.

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“I am tremendous grateful that they took care of us and had been capable of finding choice, whereas protecting us wholesome and secure,” Calixto’s son stated.

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