Methodist Healthcare October 23, 2019

A San Antonio patient is grateful for the team of people who helped her get a kidney transplant even though she was on cruise in the Gulf of Mexico when the hospital found her a rare perfect match.

Melissa Flores almost skipped the family trip because she was put on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. Three days into the cruise, Methodist Hospital | Specialty and Transplant matched Melissa to a kidney that was a perfect match for her.

“It’s rare to find a perfect match kidney for a transplant recipient, especially for one who is highly sensitized from a previous kidney transplant and is in need of another opportunity,” said Dr. Luke Shen, a transplant surgeon at Methodist Hospital | Specialty and Transplant.

Melissa’s nurses at the El Milagro Dialysis Center in Austin knew Melissa was on a cruise, and they were determined to find her. In a race against the clock, they called Carnival Cruise Line to track her down.

“Carnival Cruise Line prides itself on treating our guests like family and when one of our family members has an emergency, our team jumps into action to get the job done,” said a Carnival Cruise Line spokesperson.

The ship’s staff paged Melissa several times. Her family members heard the announcement and rushed her to guest services so she could call the hospital. She was elated to learn that they found a match, but knew she needed to rush back to San Antonio quickly.

“The team did everything possible to get her off the ship as quickly as possible. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Captain Carlo Aquilone increased Carnival Dream’s speed to arrive at the Port of Galveston early. That’s when our guest services team took over, expediting Melissa’s debarkation, so she and her husband could make the four-hour drive to Methodist Hospital | Specialty and Transplant in San Antonio,” said a Carnival Cruise Line spokesperson. “We are extremely proud of the efforts of these incredible employees who give new meaning to the Dream Team.”

Melissa arrived at Methodist Hospital | Specialty and Transplant, where Dr. Shen was waiting for her in the emergency department. The staff knew the limited time constraints in these cases and worked to get her through the ER, pre-op, labs, and into surgery.

“The surgery was a success and Melissa is doing very well off of dialysis,” said Dr. Shen. “Everyone puts in a great deal of effort to make these lifesaving transplants possible. It’s amazing that our team of nephrologists, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, nutritionists and surgeons can work together to change a person’s health with immediate results.”

Methodist Hospital | Specialty and Transplant is nationally recognized for its kidney transplant program. To learn more, click here: Kidney Transplant Services.