Transplants Reach Record Numbers in United States and Kansas

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


           The number of organ and tissue donors in 2016 rose to record highs across the country and at The University of Kansas Health System. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) reports 33,606 transplants, an 8.5 percent increase over the 2015 total and an increase of 19.8 percent since 2012. At The University of Kansas Health System, team members recovered 56 organs for transplant from 22 donors, and 51 patients gave the gift of tissue, enhancing the lives up to 2,550 lives. Those numbers are the highest ever at the health system. 

One case in particular stands out. Two brothers, one from Kansas City, the other from Columbus, Ohio, came to the hospital so one brother could donate a kidney to the other. Brian Schell lives in town and had polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a genetic disorder in which abnormal cysts develop and grow in the kidneys. Research showed him the excellent outcomes at The University of Kansas Health System’s kidney transplant program, and he asked his brother Randall if he’d be willing to donate a kidney. Randall agreed, and traveled from Ohio to give his brother a live-saving kidney.

In the video, Dr. Timothy Schmitt and Dr. Sean Kumer, who teamed up on the transplant, talk about the procedures on both brothers and what the future holds. They also explain why a living kidney donor, especially a family member, is best. And they say what to consider when looking for a transplant program.

Brian Schell, the recipient, describes his disease, and how he approached his brother to ask for the “gift of life.” He also says both his mother and sister have had transplants, which provided an excellent family support system. His brother, Randall explains why he agreed to donate a kidney and what things were like from the donor’s point of view.

The video also shows both patients just before surgery as they meet with medical staff, and TV friendly video from the surgery, showing the new kidney as it’s being placed into Brian.