A Centralia man’s multi-year search for a new kidney reached a promising conclusion this week.
Devon Beesley underwent successful kidney transplant surgery Wednesday at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle.
A person unknown to him or his wife Paige donated the organ as part of a five-person chain of healthy donors who essentially agreed to trade their kidney donation to a compatible person in exchange for one donated to the loved one they initially signed up to help.
Paige Beesley’s sister was determined to be a match for Devon in October, but her smaller stature — Devon stands 6 feet tall — became an issue, so she signed on to donate to a stranger as part of the chain crafted by UWMC staff. The Beesleys were informed in November that a donor for Devon had been found.
“Basically, that person donates to someone else who needs a kidney, has a healthy donor, but isn’t a perfect match,” Paige Beesley said. “That person donates as long as their person still gets a kidney. At some point, we’ll get to meet (Devon’s donor), the doctors just want to make sure the kidney is good and make sure there isn’t a conflict if it doesn’t.”
The Beesleys’ ordeal began in Oct. 2016 when Devon first became ill. That December, he spent more than two weeks first in Providence Centralia Hospital, then PeaceHealth Southwest in Vancouver where he underwent numerous blood transfusions, plasma exchanges and dialysis for his kidneys that had lost 80 percent of their normal function.
The Chronicle spoke with Paige Beesley on Friday while Devon slept following a physical therapy session. He’s been up and walking around the transplant wing of the hospital since Thursday. The surgeon told Beesley after the four-hour procedure wrapped up Wednesday afternoon that it looked like his new kidney was performing well before he left the operating room.
Following a brief stint in the intensive care unit early Thursday morning to address abnormalities in some test results, Beesley expects her husband to be discharged sometime early next week. They’ll be renting a condo near UWMC so Devon can attend near-daily medical appointments for about a month.
“The doctors are pretty positive right now that (the kidney) is a good match,” Beesley said. “His test results for toxins in his body are going down every day, so they’re pretty positive it took well to his system.”
Health insurance paid for most of the medical costs related to the transplant surgery, but the Beesleys will still face significant out-of-pocket expenses during the months it will take Devon to fully recover and beyond.
Immunosuppressant medication can run patients up to $1,000 a month. Devon will need to take those drugs for the rest of his life. Paige Beesley said they’ve had many family members chip in, as well as members of their local church.
She encourages anyone interested in becoming a donor to visit uwmedicine.org for more information. Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland has a similar program.
“Anyone can become a donor for someone else,” Beesley said. “You don’t need someone close to you to be sick. There are a ton of people waiting on transplant lists.”