Midstate dad describes getting long-awaited transplant during the pandemic

Lebanon

LEBANON, Pa. (WHTM) — One Lebanon County dad got the call of a lifetime in a middle of a pandemic.

After being on a waiting list for years, Michael McSherry was asked to report to the hospital within just a couple of hours: doctors found him a match, and he was finally getting a kidney transplant.

“It means the world to me because I’m able to go and do things instead of falling asleep, being tired and stuff all the time,” said Michael McSherry, who lives in Cornwall.

The 32-year-old knew he needed a transplant since he was just 18, when he found out he only had one kidney, and it was damaged.

Over the years, the dad spent weeks in and out of the hospital, as his kidney function dropped from 70% to 6% percent.

He was put on dialysis.

So when McSherry got that long-awaited call, he was thrilled.

“They made it so that I wasn’t alone,” said McSherry.

But the big surgery came during the coronavirus pandemic and a lot of extra precautions needed to be taken.

“We have to decrease his immune system so he doesn’t reject the new kidney,” said Dr. Danielle Ladie, who performed McSherry’s surgery at UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg. “In turn, he could develop viruses and other bacterial infections. So, we just have to be very cautious, with any transplant patient.”

McSherry was brought through empty hallways and never saw anyone without a mask.

His wife couldn’t be with him during his hospital stay, but medical staff tried to make him comfortable.

“I didn’t get to have any visitors besides doctors and nurses, but they made sure I was able to communicate with my wife and family members through like, FaceTime, or they had a computer there set up,” said McSherry.

He had good news to share: surgery was a success.

While he was checked on afterwards by doctors and nurses in-person, some appointments were virtual.

“For example, nutrition and pharmacy that visit with out patients and make sure they understand what nutrition changes they have after transplant, as well as what medication changes they have,” said Dr. Ladie.

Recovery recommendations are similar to those given before the pandemic, but are stricter.

“He shouldn’t be in crowds, which is a usual recommendation for transplant patients because of their immunosuppression, but he should continue that for several months,” said Dr. Ladie.

McSherry is now home and looking forward to a new normal post-COVID-19, where he feels healthy and the future is bright.

“I want to try to go to the beach with my family,” said McSherry.

UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg staff is being selective about which surgeries are done now, but say they’re still on track to do about 50 kidney transplants a year.

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