New Medical Center program offers more care for patients needing a kidney transplant

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Those in need of a kidney transplant can now receive treatment for surgery closer to home.

Tuesday morning officials cut the ribbon to the U-K Transplant Center at The Medical Center.

Through the program, the hospital now offers pre and post-operation care whereas before patients had to drive to Lexington for those services.

"Having our patients be able to get their care closer to home makes everything better for them, alright," said Dr. Jon Berger, Surgical Director at the UK Healthcare Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Center. "The drive to Lexington is not easy, it's about two, two and a half hours, that's a real barrier to transplant for a lot of patients. A lot of our patients have a very difficult time making it up there for screening tests, for clinic visits, for follow up."

Becky Grise is one of the dozens who attended Tuesday's ribbon cutting for the new program.

For years Grise battled polycystic kidney disease until doctors told her it was a battle she was losing and she would need a new kidney.

"I was told to see the dialysis people because I was going to have to start dialysis and I said 'Oh, I can't do that' but I knew if I had to I would," said Grise.

With encouragement from her family, they decided to buy a billboard advertising that Grise needed a kidney and the rest is history.

"He moved it around Bowling Green and when it made it to Louisville Road this gentleman here, Kevin Herrod, stranger, did not know him, but he saw my billboard and reached out to me and wanted, he didn't say 'I'd like to give you a kidney' he said 'I'm Kevin, and I'm going to give you a kidney,'" said Grise.

Grise's story is like many in South Central Kentucky who are in need of a new kidney.

Those transplant recipients spoke to 13 News saying these services are a game-changer.

"As a transplant recipient you realize even more than time is precious and if this saves people time, which is will, from driving to Louisville or Lexington, it's huge," said Grant Lewis, a transplant recipient.

Officials with UK Healthcare say they are doing about 120 kidney transplants a year.

The program adds Bowling Green to the Organ Failure and Transplant Network.