Tampa General Hospital is celebrating a medical milestone.
Forty years ago, Tampa General Hospital did its first organ transplant, a kidney transplant. Since then, thousands have received the "gift of life."
All those donors, recipients, and doctors who make it happen are "What's Right With Tampa Bay."
Kristine Berry's spirit lights up a room. She keeps a daily promise to herself.
"What can I do to help someone feel better," is her approach with people. That’s because Kristine spent so many days of her life feeling sick.
"I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 6. My kidneys were starting to fail in 2002," she says.
A transplant saved her, and ever since then, Kristine savors life.
"I can just about do anything that I like to do," she says.
And Kristine likes to volunteer a lot, spreading the word about organ donation, thanking donors, and encouraging the sick on transplant waiting lists to never lose hope.
"If it had not been for the two people that signed up on the organ donor registry, I wouldn't be here today," Kristine said.
Kristine is one of more than 5,000 people since 1974 who received a donor organ at TGH. Time fades the portraits of life saving at work, but not the progress.
"In the 80s , we had about a 50 to 60 percent rejection rate," TGH Dr. Victor Bowers said. "Today's results are much better. Patients survival remains at 97 percent."
That success means demand is high. The wait is long and getting longer for donor kidneys.
"In Florida, there are well over 4,000 people waiting on transplants and haven't come close to meeting the need," Bowers said.
So Kristine spends much of her re-invigorated spirit rallying for the cause, and cherishing the gift she was given.
"I feel great. I'm back to being very active," she says.
With the help of their donor partner life link, TGH ranks in the top 20 of kidney transplant centers in the nation. There are more than 200.
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