MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A Marion County man was the first dual-organ transplant recipient at Ruby Memorial in Morgantown on November 19.
Nark Kumaravelan has gained a new perspective on the holiday season and a much greater appreciation for selfless acts of kindness and giving this year. The 48-year-old Fairmont resident received the gift of life last Thursday, November 19, when the WVU Medicine Transplant Alliance, the state’s only multi-organ transplant program, performed West Virginia’s first dual-organ transplant at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital. Kumaravelan received both a new heart and kidney from an unnamed donor.
“I’m so grateful to the transplant team at WVU Medicine for their amazing work, and I’m most grateful to the donor and the donor’s family,” Kumaravelan said. “I know my life is being extended through the generosity and kindness of that person; I’ll honor that gift each and every day through my own acts of kindness.”
Kumaravelan had both chronic heart disease and kidney failure. His surgeons and care teams expect him to make a full recovery.
“Nark’s doing great,” Michael Shullo, Pharm.D., associate vice president of transplant services at WVU Medicine, said. “He’s been a great patient, and all signs point to the transplants being a success.”
The delicate and complex transplants took nine-and-a-half hours to complete, with the transplant teams first transplanting the new heart, followed by the kidney. Between the two surgeries, Kumaravelan recovered briefly in an intensive care unit.
According to WVU Medicine officials, the Transplant Alliance team is extensive with dedicated transplant professionals managing all aspects of Kumaravelan’s care. Heart transplant surgeons Vinay Badhwar, M.D., and Jeremiah Hayanga, M.D., M.P.H., performed the heart transplant. Transplant cardiologists George Sokos, D.O., Marco Caccamo, D.O., and Christopher Bianco, D.O., provided pre-and post-operative cardiology care. Lynsey Biondi, M.D., and Roberto Lopez-Soltis, M.D., performed the kidney transplant with transplant nephrologists Dinesh Kannabhiran, M.D., and Vishy Chaudhary, M.D., providing pre-and post-operative kidney care.
“Our commitment to West Virginia is to continue to expand complex services such as this to ensure West Virginians across the state have quick and easy access to the most advanced specialty care,” Albert L. Wright, Jr, president and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System, said. “We want every West Virginian to know we are here for them and ready to provide them the most complex care they might need.”
West Virginia has one of the highest rates of kidney failure in the country, and heart disease and kidney disease are among the leading causes of death for West Virginians, according to health officials. Within that context, WVU Medicine set out to establish the state’s first and only multi-organ transplant center, the WVU Transplant Alliance, which today serves people from across the state and broader region.