Over the Labor Day Holiday, on August 29, 2008, I had a very special
weekend: I had a kidney and pancreas transplant. I am fully recovered, and back to work, and feeling great after a very
successful surgery. My kidney is working perfectly and so is my pancreas. After about 35 years of being an insulin
dependent diabetic I no longer have to take insulin shots, and I am off dialysis.
My kidneys failed in April of 2008. I am lucky and fortunate,
but I grieve for the family that lost a teenager in a car accident that made the donated organs possible. I am a father,
and cannot comprehend the grief they went through and the love and generosity the family had to donate their child's organs.
They all deserve a special place in Heaven and with God. I hope to meet the family and thank them. My transplant
team at St. Vincent Hospital in Los Angeles was superb, headed by Robert Naraghi, M.D. with his associate Tang Shah, M.D.
God bless them.
And thank you for your support and
prayers. Especially my wife Shelley who got me through this. Below are some of the updates I posted after my transplant
ON OCTOBER 26, 2008
now been eight weeks since my transplants and I am feeling exceptionally well and almost fully back to normal. This
past Friday I drove my car for the first time since the surgery. Actually, I could have driven earlier, but my wife
and son insisted that they drive... and I enjoyed being the passenger.
I am now fully adjusted to taking my medication -- but frankly it is easy taking pills even though
there are pills to be taken four times a day. It's a lot easier taking pills than having to take insulin shots.
In fact, I have to remind myself each morning not to take an insulin shot. After
more than 30 years of taking insulin shots it is now a habit that is hard to break.
I really feel different now not having to take insulin, and not having to
have meals at certain times of the day to prevent low blood sugar. It is amazing this new life I have. I also
feel stronger. I have more lung capacity now, my voice has improved now that I am off dialysis. I am working better.
I hope that those of you who watch my TV program can see the differences also.
I am grateful, and I will never forget.
UPDATE ON FEBRUARY 7, 2009
It's now more than five months since my kidney and pancreas
transplant surgery and all is going well. In fact, all has been going exceptionally well. I've been sticking to
my regimen of taking various pills and anit-rejection drugs -- and what a difference it is taking pills instead of taking two or three insulin injections a day.
It's also amazing how my overall health has improved now that
I am no longer diabetic. Heck, I eat ice cream almost every day -- and I am watching my weight. I have dessert
at dinner-- cheesecake is one of my favorites. But more importantly, this past week I had a follow up appointment with
There is a history
of heart disease in my family, and when you are diabetic, heart problems are common. But in my visit this week -- my
heart health was perfect. My blood pressure was normal -- 120 over 70 -- for the first time in many, many years.
My EKG looked great and so did the echo cardiogram that lets the doctor see the heart valves move and the blood flow through
my heart. I watched the echo cardiogram as the technician scanned my heart -- it's like an ultrasound but you are looking
at your heart and not for a baby.
had been going to my cardiologist once every four months for a check-up. But this past week he told me all looks great,
and he doesn't have to see me again for a year. Wow.
Meanwhile, I keep to a daily exercise schedule. Nothing
extreme -- I walk about one and a quarter miles each day. And I haven't felt this good in many, many years. And
every day I say thank you to the family that made my transplants possible.
APRIL 7, 2009 UPDATE
April 7th is my birthday, and what a year the last year has been. Shortly after my
last birthday -- April 9th -- my kidneys failed from my many years of being an insulin dependent diabetic and I went on kidney
dialysis. Then the combination kidney and pancreas transplant last August. And now, about a year after my kidneys
failed and I started dialysis, I am now in probably the best health I've had since being in college -- before I developed
In fact, I used
to have to go to my cardiologist every several months. But now with my new pancreas, my new kidney and healthy blood
pressure levels, I've been given the all clear to stop the cardiology visits every few months and return for a check up
only after a year.I want you to know
that every morning I thank my lucky stars, God and the family that made the donated organs available. It has been quite
a "round trip" from one birthday to the next.
UPDATE MAY 30,
All has been going well,
and thank you for your continued best wishes and support. My health is excellent -- I have plenty of energy, I feel
great, my blood sugar levels are pefect with my new pancreas, and I am back to eating the pre-dialysis diet that so many people
without kidney disease take for granted. I have a new appreciation for life and I will always appreciate the family
that gave me my new life. I will never forget and pray for them every day.
Now, on the lighter side: A couple of weeks ago when I went for my last
haircut, Donelle who cuts my hair said to me, "your hair is thicker, it's straighter, and it's
darker -- less gray hair."
it's true. My hair is thicker, it is straighter and it is darker. Am I getting younger? No, it's not one
of the side benefits of a kidney and pancreas transplant... but it is the result of some of the anti-rejection drugs that
I take every day. At least, that's what the medical experts are telling me.
Some of the medications can make hair grow more quickly and thicker, or these
same medications can make your hair fall out. In my case, my hair is thicker and growing more quickly -- and the dark
hair growth is overtaking the gray hair growth. At least, that's what appears to be happening.
Yes, I still have gray hair and in places that are still prominent
on TV, such as the top, front of my head. But in places that are not usually seen on camera, such as the back and top
of my head, the hair is darker. Of course, while that is a happy result, it is not the most important result from the
kidney and pancreas transplant. It's now been 9 months.
UPDATE ON NOVEMBER
Thanksgiving is coming
up in a few days and I have a lot to be thankful for. I was having an online chat about my transplants and being thankful
and I want to share with you what I wrote:
I am very thankful, but I also have a lot of responsibility now.
I will forever be grateful to the family for donating the organs of their loved one so that I
and several others had a second chance at life. Another person received the other kidney, and the liver was divided
to help two others. Other organs were also used.
the responsibility part. Every day I say a prayer, and every night I say a prayer for that person and family, and I
realize that I have to be good for that person and try to make up for whatever good that person might have brought into the
world but can't now.
And it's not just morning and
night... when something "good" happens, or when I get a chance to laugh or smile, or accomplish something, I have
to remember where that "good" came from, where that laugh or smile came from, where that accomplishment came from.
I wish you all a good and a happy Thanksgiving. Be grateful,
and with your good fortune be responsible.
APRIL 9, 2010 UPDATE
Two years ago today I almost died from kidney failure.
It was two years ago today that I was so sick that I could barely stand and I was taken to St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica
and had tubes implanted in my chest and started kidney dialysis. What happened after that is detailed above on this
page. But I just want you to know that every day I pray for the young person who died and for the family that donated
the organs to help me and others. And I will never forget, and I will always be living with the responsibility to do
good for that donor and for that family. Thank you.
MARCH 31, 2011 UPDATE
It's been almost a year since my last update, but I am pleased to report that I've been healthy, working hard, and
taking good care of myself following doctor's orders (except the one about losing 20 pounds), taking my medicines including
anti-rejection drugs, going for my regular checkups and blood tests, Unfotunately, someone posted on a TV New Message
Forum that I was seriously ill -- and that was not true. I've only missed one day of work in the last year and that
was about six weeks ago when I got a horrible case of food poisoning. Ironically, I got it at home -- because I hadn't
eaten away from home in the previous 24-hours. I have no idea what caused it but I did end up in the emergency room
needing IV fluids because I was so dehydrated.
But I did have a scare after that
overnight stay in the hospital. It wasn't a "medical scare" but it was an "insurance scare."
After my overnight stay in the hospital the hospital billing department called me to say that my insurance carrier had refused
payment. And the reason -- that my Medicare coverage should pay the bill. Medicare? I don't have Medicare--
I have private insurance through my work.
In fact, I never had Medicare -- not while
I was on dialysis and not after my transplant. But my insurance company says I should have signed up for Medicare and
now Medicare should be paying all of my bills because it's been over 30 months since my kidney failure.
Whoa. Hold on there. What are they talking about?
what they at the insurance company are talking about is just a misinterpretation of what Medicare does and does not pay for
if you are on dialysis or after a transplant. And it took awhile for me to explain it to them, and for them to understand.
And I truly hope no one else ever has to go through what I just went through with my insurance company and the threat of not
having insurance coverage-- even after paying for it in good faith.
UPDATE ON AUGUST 29, 2011
Three years ago today the phone rang and I was told not to eat breakfast and get to the transplant center.
They found a kidney-- and a pancreas from a deceased donor. This day is not a day for celebration because it also marks
the date that a young person died and the family of that young person put aside their own grief for a time to decide to help
others with donated organs. So, today is a day for me to express my thanks and to let them know that I will never forget.
I also pray for that family, for that young person who died tragically, and for the other organ recipients that day.
I would also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that they can be living kidney donors.
You can live a perfectly healthy and normal life with one kidney (I am proof of that now, as are many other living kidney
donors) and perhaps it was God's plan that he gave most people two good kidneys so they can share one with someone in
UPDATE ON OCTOBER 8, 2011
I am writing this after Yom Kippur services. Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish faith, and I attended
day-long services at a Synagogue in San Diego with my wife and her family. In the afternoon, there was a special Healing
Service where special prayers were offered for those who were ill, and it was also a time when those who were ill could
testify about their faith. My wife's family had many reasons to be there as there has been some serious illness in her
family. And, then of course there was my kidney and pancreas transplant three years ago.
During the service my sister-in-law talked about their faith and she mentioned that her father (my father-in-law)
recently suffered a stroke but is now on the mend, and she thanked the congregation for their support during other illnesses,
and with some hesitation she mentioned my transplants. I think she thought I wouldn't want it mentioned. But as
she seemingly choked on the words I looked up at her and said "okay, I'll talk about it." And I took the microphone
and spoke to the congregation.
I told them that every day I wake up in the morning
and thank God and say a prayer for the donor and the donor's family -- people I have never met, nor do I know who they are.
And then, for the first time, I cried in public. My voice cracked and tears fell as I said what a burden it is
to know that I can go on with my life because of the grief that another family suffered, and because someone else died.
And it is a thought that I have every day of the year, and not just on Yom Kippur.
UPDATE ON APRIL 7, 2012
I'm writing this exactly sixty years after the moment I was born. Yep, it's my birthday. And I'm doing
well. But four years ago I was in pretty rough shape. Three days before my birthday of four years ago I was terribly
ill from kidney failure -- and I passed out hitting my head and I needed stitches to close the wound. And a couple of
days after my birthday of four years ago I started kidney dialysis. I was still a diabetic taking insulin injections
-- two or three a day to keep my blood sugar under control. This birthday is a lot different and I am in a much better
place and in better health. But I will always remember what got me here to enjoy today. Thank you.
UPDATE ON AUGUST 29, 2012
Four years ago today the phone rang and a nurse from the St. Vincent Medical Center Transplant Unit asked "did
you eat breakfast yet?" Then she said "don't." Late that night, four years ago, I was undergoing
the kidney and pancreas transplant. And every day since then I thanked God and prayed for the family and for the
loved one they lost for making the transplant possible. It is a heavy burden to wake up each morning realizing that
someone died and their organs are living inside you. Transplant patients who received an organ from a living donor are
spared that burden and they can share the joy and good health the transplant brings with their living donor.
UPDATE ON OCTOBER, 2, 2012
This isn't about my kidney and pancreas transplant. This is about living as a diabetic. For about 32
years I was an insulin-dependent diabetic and that meant trying to control blood sugar, eating carefully, and dealing with
problems when my blood sugar was too high and when it was too low. When blood sugar is low things go wrong: you can
lose consciousness, you can fall and get hurt, and when driving a car you can run your car off the road or run it into someone
else's car. I never had a car accident but one time I did lose consciousness while driving and somehow, through the
grace of God, after leaving Encino and getting on the 405 Freeway, I found myself in Gorman safe, alive, with no body damage
on my car, and wondering how the heck I got there?
I've also had episodes of low
blood sugar while on TV and I stumbled over words and forgot my lines and slurred. Once when it happend while working
at WTVJ in Miami I blamed it on my contact lenses. Once when it happened in the newsroom at CBS in New York I didn't
make any excuses and paramedics wheeled me out and drove me to Roosevelt Hospital. My blood sugar was dropping fast
when I was live reporting on Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan's visit to South Los Angeles but somehow I managed to finish the
live report on the noon news.
And then there was another episode of low blood sugar
which I never talked about till now. And I'm doing it now because I want to find the employee at KCAL who helped me
in the parking lot when I was in a "daze" and I didn't know where I was going because my blood sugar was so low.
For more than ten years this
has been on my mind: Well, one day my blood sugar
was very low, and I had just finished my Money Report on the Noon News. As I normally did, I had a news story to cover
after the noon report and walking from the studio on the Paramount lot to where the news vans were parked over at the
old KCAL building on Melrose my blood sugar dropped dramatically.
I reached the parking lot over at the Melrose building I was in a daze. I couldn't see where I was going and I must
have looked drunk. In fact, diabetics when they have insulin reactions (as I was having) do appear drunk -- but they're
not. If you ever come across someone who appears to be drunk, ask them if they are diabetic -- because you could be
saving a life when you do.
Well, I must have been standing there
in the parking lot when one of the ladies working at KCAL came up to me and said "are you okay?" I remember
that, and I remember saying, "I must be drunk." I probably said "I must be drunk" because
for years I always had discussions about diabetics with low blood sugar appearing to be drunk. And she said, "you
just got off the air, that was fast." Yeah, great, she must have thought I put down a whole bottle of scotch in
the five minutes since I left the news set. And then she said "where are you going?" And I must have
muttered that I was looking for "Unit 13" because I was usually working in Unit 13.
She must have pointed the way for me to find the news van, and somehow I got in the van. At this point, I must
have looked like a mess with perspiration, a dazed look, and slurred speech. These are the classic symptoms of low blood
But after having blood sugar levels that are low, the
body releases sugar that is stored in the liver, and that must have happened to me because then I started to come "out
of it." I recall asking the cameraman (I forgot who it was and I probably didn't even recognize him at the time)
to swing by a donut shop so I could get some donuts (a source of quick sugar).
But what is on my mind all these years is -- who was the lady, the KCAL employee, in the parking lot?
I want her to know I was not really drunk.
UPDATE ON AUGUST 29, 2013
For this update, I would like to
post the comments I made on my Facebook page, and some of the comments made by others. The only point I want to make
here is that I wish more people would consider making a living donation of a kidney. I'd like to think that God gave
everyone two kidneys so they could donate one while living, and while living they can enjoy the gift they gave, and at the
same time ease what really is guilt that a transplant recipient can feel after receiving an organ from a deceased donor.
As you read the posts from Facebook, I think you will understand.
August 29. Five years ago today I got a phone call. "Did you have breakfast
yet? Don't." It was a transplant coordinator calling from St Vincent Medical Center in LA. Shortly before midnight
five years ago today I had a kidney and a pancreas transplant. But it came with a heavy burden. Five years ago today someone
died tragically and that is something that stays with me every day.
And what some others posted:
It may not serve as much of a consolation, but know that God wanted it that way. The person who
died is your angel sent from the heavens. As long as you are living your life and doing good, you should not feel bad or
have helped to keep this person alive in you!!! We live in a magical age. Where one persons death can mean life for another. You and your donor are giving so much hope to people who are
facing transplants. Five years and counting. That's wonderful. Alan, you cant look
at it that way. If it were you or a family member, a loved one or even me, wouldnt you want our peril to greatly benefit
the life of another human? You and I were born with a factory installed non optional guilt gland so we are a bit more miserable
in that area than the other tribes out there. awwwwwwwww im glad u kept the same heart u always had!!
I believe there are no coincidences, you were meant to
get that phone call. Consider that person as your guardian angel. I'm so glad that you are doing well. I am also very happy to hear you are well and thriving. That person lives on in you. A window closes and a door opens. It was b'shert you were standing at the door. All the best.
I have one wish and that is that more people were living donors. God gave people two
kidneys and I'd like to think that means one to share. What donor wouldn't rather be around to see the life they gave?
And every recipient would like to be able to hug and thank the donor who shared life with them. It's been five years.
I will never forget.