Shelby County Commissioner Makes Altruistic Kidney Donation

Dr. Eason, Steve Mulroy, Dr. Campos

(Left to right: James Eason, M.D., Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy, and Luis Campos, M.D.)

Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy donated one of his kidneys at Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute. Two days later he held a press conference where he told reporters why he decided to make an altruistic donation, a donation that would help someone he doesn’t even know.

Mulroy said his altruistic donation was inspired by three separate events: “The Simpsons,” an inspirational billboard, and a Catholic priest. In 2011, Monsignor Val Handwerker from Immaculate Conception donated a kidney to a parishioner. The inspirational billboard displayed a pass it on message and Mulroy thought he was a nice person and could do that, and the inspiration from “The Simpsons” came from an episode where Homer checks into the hospital.

“And who’s his roommate? His annoying friendly neighbor Ned Flanders. And he says ‘Hi diddley, diddley neighbor good to see you.’ And Homer says, ‘What are you doing here.’ He says donating a kidney.’ Homer asks to who. Flanders says, ‘First come first serve.’”

James Eason, M.D., program director for the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute, performed Mulroy’s kidney removal surgery on Tuesday, April 30.

“We performed two transplants at this hospital on that day,” said Eason. “There were six people across the country who received transplants because of this starting gift.”

Mulroy’s kidney went to the National Kidney Registry which has a specialized computer program that matches donors and recipients nationwide. An altruistic donation can open up a chain of donations. In this case, doctors say the chain reaction will help up to 28 patients nationwide.

“It’s a ripple effect,” described Mulroy. “There’s a multiplier effect by doing it this way and so many, many, many lives can be saved.”

Mulroy is well on his way to recovery. “Nowadays laparoscopy surgery is so minimally invasive, it’s easy, it’s not a big deal,” he said at a press conference on May 2, two days after his surgery.

The following Monday, he was back at work for the County Commission meeting where he received a standing ovation from commissioners.

In 2012 the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute performed 113 kidney transplants, 28 were from living donors. One of those donations was an altruistic donation.

According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), in 2012, 96,000 patients in the United States were waiting for a kidney. Only 16,000 people who were waiting received a kidney transplant.