Dalton needed a kidney transplant and his brother James did not think twice before offering his.
James and Dalton Ignley are identical twins and they share quite a special bond. Growing up, they've pulled pranks on the people they love since it was hard to tell them apart. But, they grew up and went on to focus on their careers, but their bond was still strong. At 25, Dalton had to undergo an annual health examination because those were the rules laid down by his employer, the local garbage removal service company, reveals Today. However, he was in for a shock when he got to know that his blood pressure was alarmingly high- almost 200 over 180.
“They rushed me to the hospital ... for stroke-like conditions,” Dalton, now 29, of Greenville, Pennsylvania, said. “They told me, ‘Well it looks like you have a kidney issue.’” This diagnosis left him confused because he felt perfectly healthy, despite what the doctor told him. “I was like, “How can I be in kidney failure? I’m not sick,’” Dalton said. “At the time it was like a shock. How is this happening to me, a 26-year-old?” Apparently, Dalton's condition was an inflammation of the kidney's filters called glomerulonephritis. While this isn't genetic, it is a leading cause of renal failure, according to his doctor, Dr. Sundaram Hariharan, medical director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at UPMC.
Though Dalton was in stage-3 kidney failure, his organ continued to work well until April 2017, after which he had to be hooked onto dialysis, and it helped him for almost a year. Come January 2018, he fell terribly sick due to pneumonia and he had to be switched to hemodialysis. This meant that a machine and an artificial kidney was cleaning his blood. He had no option but to quit his job as doctors told him that his best option was a kidney transplant. Dalton turned to his brother for help who immediately agreed to donate a kidney for his brother.
“I don’t think I ever really did ask him to donate,” Dalton said. “He automatically said yes.” James didn't have to think twice about his decision. “It was the most important thing I had to do,” James, 29, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, said. “I felt like if I had the chance, I would do whatever I could.” But James had to lose some weight. At 6 feet 1 inch tall weighing 299 pounds, James had always been a “bigger guy.” Though the hospital offered to help him through a dietician, he decided to try things out on his own. He made small changes like walking around more often and cutting sugar, and he began to notice changes. “My whole life sort of just changed,” James said.
These changes, along with a few more lifestyle alterations made him lose 60 pounds before the surgery was scheduled. “The fact that I needed to donate a kidney made it so I’ve been able just to change,” he said. In May 2018, the kidney transplant was done and it was an immediate success. “Identical twins give the rare opportunity for the recipient to live as if his kidney is his own," Dr. Hariharan said via email. "Giving immunosuppressants for many years is associated with serious side effects, so if we can eliminate that, especially for a young patient, that’s the best thing we can do.”
Dr. Hariharan added that if an organ donation is from an identical twin, the chances of the patient living a normal life after the transplant is very high, like Dalton and James. The twins are doing well, too. Dalton hopes to be able to return to work soon, as he says, "I'm feeling great." James, who now weighs 275 pounds, says he's very happy he was able to help his brother out in time. “It's a chance, an opportunity to do something for your fellow man, person, stranger, neighbor, family member and I think I did what everyone else would have done,” James said. “There’s nothing more special and rewarding.”