Sisters celebrate their 30th kidney transplant anniversary

Photo: Billy Calzada / San Antonio Express-News
Thirty years ago today, Tracy Meinert (left) donated a kidney to her younger sister, Tammy Rusznak, a UTSA student back then.

Thirty years ago, Tammy Meinert was dying. After months of feeling ill — with constant fatigue, headaches, weight loss and difficulty concentrating — the 21-year-old student at the University of Texas at San Antonio was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease.

Her kidneys were failing, and, unless she wanted to spend the rest of her life on dialysis, she needed a transplant.

Fortunately, her sister, Tracy, one year older and in perfect health, was a match. So 30 years ago today, on July 16, 1986, Tammy became the 113th living-donor kidney recipient at San Antonio’s Humana Hospital, which became Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital.

Over the past three decades, kidney transplants such as the one the now-married Tammy Rusznak received have become, if not routine, certainly commonplace. In 2014, there were 17,107 kidney transplants done in the United States, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, part of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

But in 1986, it was still a dangerous procedure with no guarantee of success. Continue reading
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