An experience with organ donation during his first year of general surgery rotation made a lasting impression on Dr. Mamoun Pacha. It was 1976, and Dr. Pacha received a phone call from Dr. Johanssen, chief of the Renal Transplant Department at the University of Illinois. “Be ready,” she told him. They would be driving several hours to recover kidneys from an organ donor.
Dr. Pacha was nervous about assisting in such an important procedure, but he knew Dr. Johanssen was one of the most respected physicians in the field of surgery and transplantation.
As Dr. Pacha assisted in recovering the kidneys, he remembers another doctor at the head of the table who was recovering the donor’s eyes. He said to Pacha, “I have some important news to deliver to some nice people today.”
Back in Chicago, a nine-year-old Latino boy had been waiting on a compatible kidney donor for several years. He developed renal disease at a young age, and a transplant was his best hope. Dr. Pacha assisted Dr. Johanssen as they took the donor kidneys and performed a successful transplant for the little boy.
When Dr. Pacha checked on the young transplant recipient, a nurse shared a funny story. The boy had been so excited to use the bathroom after the surgery. “Urination was a privilege for him,” said Dr. Pacha.
Dr. Pacha has been practicing urology for over forty years, and the experience of providing a child with a second chance at life stayed with him throughout his career in medicine.
“I have great respect for the surgeon, the patient, the family, the workers, the nurses—everybody on the team who is involved to make life better,” says Dr. Pacha. “This is not a money issue. This is not a time issue. It’s not a fame issue. It’s really something that goes back to the heart and soul of a human.”
August is Minority Donor Awareness Month. Advancing Sight Network supports awareness of organ, eye and tissue donation in minority communities, and we are grateful for all of the families who have made the generous decision to donate