New hearts forge new friendship for transplant recipients

friendship for transplant recipients

A suburban Detroit woman and South Side Chicago man are recovering in a Chicago hospital following rare triple transplant surgeries that gave them the healthy heart, liver and kidney each needed — and a new friendship they never expected.

University of Chicago Medicine doctors announced Friday that they successfully completed the triple organ transplants on Sarah McPharlin, a 29-year-old woman of Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, and Daru Smith, a 29-year-old father from Chicago’s South Side, within 30 hours of one another.

McPharlin had two transplants canceled earlier in the year, pushing her surgery back.

“Maybe because it’s only luck that both of those transplants were supposed to be at the same time,” Nir Uriel, the director of heart failure, transplant and mechanical circulatory support for the hospital, said at a news conference Friday. University of Chicago Medicine has performed the most heart-liver-kidney transplants in the world.

Just eight minutes after a medical team finished Smith’s liver transplant on Dec. 20, hospital staff learned that donor organs were available for McPharlin. Smith, who finished surgery that day, became only the 16th person in the U.S. to undergo a heart-liver-kidney transplant and hours later on Dec. 21 McPharlin became the 17th.

Each surgery required a 22-person team, with some staffers working on both patients. The hospital also performed five other organ transplants during that time period.

Smith and McPharlin, who had her first heart transplant at the age of 12, arrived at the Chicago hospital in November.

friendship for transplant recipients

But neither knew they were both seeking a triple transplant when they first met during pre-therapy sessions ahead of surgery. The sessions were quiet and patients didn’t share details about their transplants. But McPharlin’s mother, who quit her job as a school teacher in Michigan to be with her daughter for treatment, pried out of Smith that he was awaiting the same organs as McPharlin.

“It’s been mind-blowing and amazing, having someone go through the process with me, gave me more motivation,” Smith, a truck driver, said during a video interview at the hospital Friday.

The pair, who are recovering on the same hospital floor, share walks and give each other high-fives when they pass one another in the hallways. Their families are already planning a dinner together in the city once the two are released and feeling better.

Nurses say they notice a difference in recovery for the two compared to other transplant patients, because they have gone through the same unusual and debilitating surgery together.

McPharlin and Smith notice too.

“It was so cool to know we would be able to see each other progress together,” McPharlin, an occupational therapist, said Friday. “It was really cool to see how Daru was getting up in the hall and I knew eventually, or pretty soon, I would be doing the same.”

Bolton leaves Turkey on sour note over Trump’s Syria plans

Trump Syria plans

National security adviser John Bolton left here in frustration Tuesday, with the U.S. and Turkey locked in a political standoff that threatens President Donald Trump’s plans for a troop withdrawal from Syria.

Bolton left Turkey without seeing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who then publicly called earlier comments the top Trump aide had made about Turkey’s role in neighboring Syria a “serious mistake.”

It was a rocky conclusion to Bolton’s overseas trip, which he undertook to explain Trump’s plans for Syria to key U.S. allies. The contretemps also illustrated the risk for Bolton in conducting diplomacy abroad — a role that is not traditionally part of a national security adviser’s portfolio, but one he seems to relish.

On one of several trips abroad he has taken since assuming his job last April, Bolton also found himself casting an eye back home, denouncing media reports suggesting that he and the president were on different pages when it comes to Syria policy.

Bolton, traveling in a U.S. government 757 jet often used by Vice President Mike Pence, left Turkey after Erdogan skipped an anticipated meeting with the Trump adviser and criticized him in a speech to his parliament. The Turkish leader is furious over Bolton’s insistence that U.S. forces would remain in Syria until his country agreed not to attack Kurdish forces in Syria who have fought alongside American troops against the Islamic State.

Bolton had hoped to reach a consensus with Erdogan over a roadmap for a U.S. troop withdrawal which would allow the U.S. to defeat the remnants of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, while also containing Iran’s military presence in Syria.

But Washington and Ankara are increasingly butting heads over whether and how to protect Syria’s Kurdish fighters after U.S. troops leave.

Despite the sour reception from Erdogan, officials say Bolton’s visit here was worthwhile: He met for more than two hours with his counterpart, Turkish national security adviser Ibrahim Kalin, and the country’s deputy defense and foreign ministers.

According to a U.S. official in that meeting, Bolton presented the Turks with a document listing terms governing the pullout of American forces in a “deliberate, orderly and strong manner.” He also committed to keep some troops at the al-Tanf garrison in southeast Syria near the Jordanian border, which is used to monitor the flow of Iranian arms and forces. And he said the U.S. would help secure the airspace over northeast Syria.

Trump Syria plans

But in language clearly alluding to the long-oppressed Kurds, Bolton added that the United States wanted “the protection of all civilians, particularly local minority populations.”

“The United States opposes any mistreatment of opposition forces who fought with us against ISIS,” the document said.

In Jerusalem on Sunday, Bolton had previewed that tough message, which he planned to deliver directly to Erdogan: President Trump would not pull out the troops until Turkey guaranteed it would not — in the words of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — “slaughter the Kurds.”

That stance angered Erdogan, who, hours before Bolton’s arrival, published an op-ed in the New York Times insisting his government had “no argument with the Syrian Kurds,” although Ergodan went on to brand Turkey’s Y.P.G. militia as a “terrorist” group that could have no political role in Syria’s future.

Erdogan said that Trump made the right call to withdraw from Syria and proposed a “stabilization force” for Syria, which he said Turkey would stand up and vet. He promised to “cooperate with our actions with our friends and allies.”