The Doctors discuss the latest health topics in the news.
The Gift of Life
Eric and Grace have been married for 30 years and have two children. Shortly after the birth of their son, Grace was diagnosed with lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, which caused her kidneys to fail two years after the diagnosis. She underwent a successful kidney transplant from a deceased donor in 1994; however, 15 years later the transplanted kidney began to deteriorate. Grace registered again on the deceased donor waiting list, but was told she may have to wait eight or nine years for a new organ.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the U.S., Bob and Diana — who have been married for 35 years and have three children — were going through a similar challenge. In 2012, Bob began experiencing problems with his kidney and was told he would need a transplant. Diana offered to donate one of hers, but was told she was not a match for Bob. They, too, were told they’d have to wait years for a new organ from the deceased donor waiting list.
Desperate for a solution, both couples turned to the live donor exchange program, which uses a nationwide database to match willing donors with patients needing organ transplants. The program matched the two couples, and Eric donated a kidney to Bob, and Diana donated a kidney to Grace. The two couples meet for the very first time on The Doctors' stage.
“We just saw something amazing … two families giving each other the gift of life,” ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says.
• Learn more about the UCLA Kidney Exchange Program.
Getting a Second Opinion
Kyle, 19, developed debilitating scoliosis at age 12, which caused a 30 to 40 degree curve in his spine that rapidly progressed. He sought treatment from a doctor, who performed an X-ray and recommended a spinal fusion procedure that would straighten the spine. At the time, Kyle says he felt he wasn’t ready for the surgery, and decided to get a second opinion from orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. Hooman Melamed, who performed an MRI in addition to an X-ray. The MRI showed that Kyle had a rare deformity that caused his spinal cord to be tethered down, instead of allowing it to migrate up the spinal column as it should normally.
Dr. Melamed informed Kyle that if he had undergone the spinal fusion without first correcting the tethering, he could have been paralyzed. Dr. Melamed then performed the procedure to release the tethered cord, and finally, the spinal fusion procedure.
Living Through Leukemia
Amanda and her husband, Jason, an editor for The Doctors, say they were devastated when their 5-month-old son, Nicholas, was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) — an aggressive form of leukemia that is rarely seen in children. Due to his age, Nicholas was not eligible for a bone marrow transplant, which is a typical treatment for AML. Instead, he underwent several rounds of strong chemotherapy, which obliterated his young immune system, requiring him live in a sterile room for six months.
“All the emotions go away,” Amanda says. “You’re in a war for your child’s life, and nothing else matters.”
The fourth round of chemotherapy was so severe that it nearly killed Nicholas. Amanda and Jason then decided to stop the treatment and try to make Nicholas’ life as happy as possible. Thankfully, the previous treatments were enough for Nicholas to beat the disease. On his fourth birthday, Nicholas was declared cured of cancer.
Amanda, Jason and now 9-year-old Nicholas join The Doctors to discuss their journey. See how Nicholas is doing today, and hear what Amanda is doing to help other parents of children battling cancer.