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Memorial Medical Center Performs 900th Kidney Transplant

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Monday, June 29, 2015

For the first time in nearly 13 years, Tandra Perkins of Urbana woke up and didn't have to think about dialysis. It had been her routine three times a week four hours at a time.

On June 10, the 44-year-old became the 900th patient to receive an organ transplant from The Alan G. Birtch, MD, Center for Transplant Services at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield. The transplant program is a cooperative initiative between the nonprofit hospital, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and Springfield Clinic.

“This milestone is another reminder of our privilege to be involved with a program that serves the needs of so many throughout central and southern Illinois,” said Dr. Marc Garfinkel, surgical director of the transplant program and an associate professor with the SIU School of Medicine’s division of general surgery. “And now we’re looking forward to our 1,000th patient.”

Garfinkel performed Perkins’ surgery.

Perkins and her husband, Michael, were watching a basketball game on TV on June 9 when the call came that a kidney was available. She had received two previous calls about the availability of a kidney, but neither of them worked out. Somehow, Perkins said, she knew this third time was going to work out.

“I was praying all the way to the hospital,” Perkins said, “thanking the Lord that I finally got my kidney.”

Perkins has three sisters and two brothers; one of the brothers is her twin. Four of them still live in or near Evansville, Indiana, where Perkins was born and raised. She’s looking forward to being able to take an extended trip to see her siblings in a couple of months. While on dialysis, she could only take a short weekend trip, which was often exhausting for her.

Memorial’s transplant program was founded in 1972 by the late Dr. Alan G. Birtch, who was recruited by SIU School of Medicine to join its faculty. Under Birtch’s leadership as medical director, the transplant program was developed through a partnership between Memorial and SIU.

Two other physicians on the transplant team are Dr. David Rea, an assistant professor with SIU School of Medicine’s division of general surgery, and Dr. Brad West, a nephrologist with Springfield Clinic and medical director of the transplant program.

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