Doctors: Waitress, patron fine after kidney transplant

By Associated Press and 11alive
Published on June 5, 2015

ATLANTA – A Roswell, Ga. Hooters restaurant waitress and a longtime patron of the establishment are both doing well after a successful kidney transplant on Friday.

This selfless gift was the result of a true twist of fate. Villarreal and Thomas barely knew one each other, but Villarreal recently lost her grandmother to kidney failure and said she felt inspired to help Thomas.

The Piedmont Transplant Institute performed a kidney transplant where 22-year-old Mariana Villarreal gave one of her kidneys to 72-year-old Donald Thomas.

“He is progressing at a remarkable rate,” said Cerise Wotorson, clinical manager of the Transplant Unit at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, of the recipient’s recovery. “Mr. Thomas is in good spirits and is already up and walking around the unit.”

Both donor and recipient were released from the hospital on Monday – just days following their procedure.

Villarreal was released from the hospital late in the evening on Saturday.

“The surgery could not have gone better,” said Harrison Pollinger who performed Villarreal’s donor procedure on Friday.

Dr. Pollinger is one of two program directors of the Piedmont Transplant Institute at Piedmont Atlanta. Matthew Malloy, a multi-organ transplant surgeon performed Thomas’ recipient procedure that same day.

Pollinger used a robotic approach to perform Villarreal’s nephrectomy, or kidney removal. This minimally invasive approach allows access to the kidneys via a small incision in the abdomen.

The result is a reduction in the patient’s post-operative recovery time and quicker return to daily activities, which doctors say is a bonus for living donors who give second chances.

“Continuing forward, we will monitor both their oral and intravenous intake and output closely to ensure adequate kidney function,” he continued. “Comfort and mobility are also essential to transplant patients’ post-operative success.”

The average life of a transplanted kidney is between 10 and 12 years. Thanks to Villarreal’s altruism, both donor and recipient should be able to live healthy lives. As a living donor, Mariana will do so with only the one kidney.

More from the Associated Press:
ATLANTA — Doctors say a waitress at a Georgia Hooters and a longtime regular customer at the restaurant are both doing well after a successful kidney transplant.

WXIA-TV ( ) reports that 22-year-old Mariana Villareal gave one of her kidneys to 72-year-old Donald Thomas on Friday at the Piedmont Transplant Institute.

Villareal was released from the hospital late Saturday. Doctors involved in the kidney donation said the donor and recipient surgeries went well and Thomas is expected to be home by Tuesday.

The television station reports that Villareal hardly knew Thomas but was inspired to help him because she recently lost her grandmother to kidney failure.

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