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Snow no obstacle for kidney transplant

Hospital sends staff to fetch patient, doctor

SEATTLE – Kidney patient Dorothy Beaver and kidney transplant surgeon Ramasamy Bakthavatsalam were both snowed in when the telephone call came.

They were told they had to get to the University of Washington Medical Center in time for the operation. The time frame was only a couple of hours.

After four years of dialysis, Beaver, 49, was more than ready to go no matter how icy and slippery it was outside.

That’s four years of dialysis at four hours a day, three times a week.

“I was so excited, I was running around my apartment,” she said.

But it wasn’t going to be easy to get transported from her snow-bound apartment in SeaTac.

Her foster sister and caregiver was snowed in across town near Northgate in Seattle. And HopeLink, which normally transported her to dialysis, was handling only emergencies.

Meanwhile, Dr. Bakthavatsalam was also snowed in Kirkland.

The hospital turned out to be the real hero, dispatching staff to go get the patient and the doctor.

“I was delighted to do it,” said Walter Thurnhofer, the medical center’s senior director of support services. “She said she was so tired of dialysis, that this was the best Christmas present.”

Meanwhile, interim medical director Dr. Tom Staiger went to Kirkland to pick up the surgeon.

Both the patient and the physician made it to the hospital on time.

Beaver got her new kidney Monday morning.

“I just want to thank the family that donated the kidney,” she said. “This is going to let me be more active with my (six) grandchildren. “I already feel better.”

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