CLEAR LAKE CITY, Texas -- Dennis Terry gave one of his own kidneys to his 21-year-old son Tyler, but the Clear Lake-area dad believes he’s the one who actually received the best gift of all.
When Tyler was 12-days-old, he was rushed to the hospital, diagnosed with super-ventricular tachycardia. Doctors were eventually able to arrest his heart problem and save his life. But the event caused lasting damage to other organs.
The Terry family knew that Tyler’s kidneys likely wouldn’t last.
"Well growing up with it, I knew something was going to have to be done eventually,” said Tyler.
At 18 years old, a transplant was considered his best option, and his dad was the best match. But a hospital wouldn’t go through with it because of the danger is posed to both of them.
Dennis Terry had kidney problems of his own. He suffered from recurring bouts of kidney stones, aAnd he had been through other abdominal surgeries, including having his spleen removed after an accident when he was young. Scar tissue from those and other procedures led doctors to believe the transplant could endanger his health as well.
“It was heartbreaking,” said Dennis. “I wanted him to have the best kidney possible, and knowing that I had that kidney and couldn't give it to him, it really ate at me."
“It just kind of made me really nervous,” said Tyler, considering that his father’s health might be put at risk.
But as their options dwindled – on average it takes more than four years for a donor kidney to become available from a deceased donor – the Terry family sought a second opinion. And this time a new hospital, Houston Methodist, said yes. They were willing to take the risk that both father and son would be OK.
"And then they told me yes, and I was on top of the world again,” said Dennis.
"He understood there were real risks that could impact his life. But he had one goal in mind and that was to help his son to have a better, healthier life to have a higher quality of life,” said Houston Methodist urologist Dr. Wesley Mayer. "’Awe’ would be the one word I can think of at his dedication to that."
The operation happened almost exactly one month ago. It went well and Mayer said the outlook for both father and son is good.
"Pretty thankful. Very thankful,” said Tyler. “It's changed my life for the better."
But as Father's Day approaches, he wonders what he could possibly give his dad in return. Dennis said he got that gift already.
"I look at it even differently because I think that I was given something,” said Dennis. “I was given the opportunity to take care of him. And so I think it was a gift for me."
"Everyone loves their kids and you'll do anything for them," said Dennis. "That's what you bargain for when you have a child. You do anything they need to make them feel better."
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