UI Health Gave Him The Kidney Transplant That No Other Hospital Could

Marvin's kidney transplant at the University of Illinois Hospital

"I'm living life to the fullest. I couldn't walk more than 20 feet without stopping to rest. Now I can work a 13-hour shift and take the stairs to the 8th floor. I couldn't lift more than 5 pounds; now I can leg press 300."

Chicagoan Marvin Robinson says he was afraid when he learned he was going to need a kidney transplant. Two months later Marvin is back on his feet and ready to go! Listen to Marvin's story in his own words, and how he says the University of Illinois Hospital is changing medicine, for good.

"Was living on borrowed time. When a rare kidney disease threatened the life of this young husband and father of three, UI Health gave him the kidney transplant that no other hospital could. 

It's a scary feeling to think you might die.

That's how it was for me for over a year. I was 35 and diagnosed with a very rare kidney disease called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS).

For months before I found out what was wrong, my legs were swollen, my skin was changing color and I lost the taste of food-a cheeseburger would taste like lead. By the time my local hospital ran the tests that revealed my disease, I was almost dead-my kidney function was less than 10 percent.

I needed a new kidney, but finding someone willing to give me one of theirs was not easy. Fortunately, finding a hospital qualified to do the transplant was. Choosing University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System was a no brainer for me.

Finding a donor wasn't the only challenge. I'm a big guy-6-foot 4 and 340 pounds at the time. Most hospitals hesitate to perform an organ transplant on someone who's obese because of the risk of infection. But UI Health has a proven track record of safe transplants on folks with a BMI over 35.

For over a year, I went to UI Health for dialysis. I was so tired that I would finish up my six hours of dialysis and go home to sleep till the next treatment.

Finally, I got a donor! My cousin Mario generously stepped up to the plate. It turns out we have different blood types-a no-starter for transplant surgery at most hospitals. But not for UI Health.

The best doctors in the world Dr. Benedetti and Dr. Oberholzer performed my surgery using robotic surgery. Not only did these guys save my life, but I look like I've never been touched-just a dot on my belly.

Now, two years later, my health is better than before I got sick. I'm still a big guy, but now I'm 315 pounds and all muscle. Best of all, I'm back to being the energetic husband and dad to my three daughters that I want to be.

There's always hope! That's what I want other patients like me to know.