Kidney Donation Gives Rome Man a Second Chance

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Rome resident Thomas Trace had been living with chronic kidney disease for 17 years before he was placed on an organ recipient list in March 2022. The same year, he had begun going on dialysis, which involves staying hooked up to machines that perform the job his diseased kidneys could not do: filter his blood.

Unlike many people who languish on waiting lists for years, Trace said he felt “quite surprised when I got the call in the middle of the night” mere months later with the news that a kidney was available.

“I was very happy since I understood I’d have to wait longer,” he said.

Trace was lucky.

Many people on waiting lists receive a similar call and learn at the last moment that the kidney was not a match. Trace’s dialysis provider told him that this even happens after patients are prepped for surgery.

Fortunately for Trace, the new kidney matched. Although he had a good experience while on dialysis, he wanted the greater freedom to travel and make other plans instead of hooking up to a machine for a couple hours a day, six days a week. The life expectancy for people on dialysis is five to 10 years, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

“It’s good to get the transplant before you’re on dialysis for a long time,” Trace said. “That was a good indicator for a positive outcome.”

On Oct. 23, 2022, he received the new kidney at Upstate University Hospital and “felt pretty good” afterward, he said.

“My main issue was that it was a little worrisome once I got it. I’m very concerned about my kidney. I want to treat it well for the sake of the transplant program. It’s a little burden to make sure I take my medications not only for myself but also because this came from someone who died.”

His gratitude for this gift of life also extends to his wanting to live his life fully. Trace, now 53, is spending more time with family and exercises and travels as he used to before his kidney condition had worsened in recent years.

“I found the whole experience of being on dialysis was stimulating as I learned a lot of things and had good treatment from people who were for the most part kind and empathetic,” Trace said.

The day after his surgery offered one example. While he was recovering in the intensive care unit, a member of the housekeeping staff who must have seen him right after his surgery met his eyes and commented, “I’m so happy you’re doing well.”

The interaction struck Trace profoundly because he was not in her care, yet she took a moment to express real compassion for his health.

“She didn’t know what had happened to me,” he said. “I could’ve been in a car accident. The way she expressed it, it was so genuine. Some people have such an ability to show love.”

He initially experienced pain and difficulty in getting around, but recovered quickly. His immunosuppressant medication is working
well to prevent his body from rejecting the kidney and his blood work looks good.

Trace has never met the family of the donor, but feels deep thankfulness for their gift of life and wants more people to realize that “the best treatment for serious kidney disease is by far getting a transplant,” he said.

Top image: Thomas Trace of Rome says “the best treatment for serious kidney disease is by far getting a transplant.” He underwent a successful transplant surgery at Upstate University Hospital in October last year.