Man one of five thankful for second chance at life after organ transplant at St. Luke’s

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Northland man got a life changing phone call Sunday and three days later received an organ transplant that gave him another shot at health and time with his four kids.

"I just get a second chance at life really. Spending time with family, the kids," Neil Helmers said.

Helmers, 38, said he`s had trouble with his blood pressure since he was a teen  which destroyed his kidneys.

"I was actually home asleep, and my wife came in all ecstatic, we got this phone call, we got a kidney we got a kidney," Helmers said.

Helmers said he didn`t expect to be in the operating room just hours after the  phone call. Helmers said he was getting tested Monday morning and in the operating room Monday night.

Since the transplant, Helmers said he doesn`t feel much improvement yet, but his surgeon said the surgery was a success and it will take time for his new organ to adjust to his body.

"I don`t want to leave, leave four kids behind," Helmers said. "All that stuff, leave the wife alone to take care of them. It`s pretty stressful."

St. Luke`s Hospital treated Helmers along with four other transplant patients all in one day, marking a milestone in the hospital`s history. In total three people got new kidneys, another got a kidney and lung transplant and a fifth person received a new heart.

"We were fortunate enough to get so many organs for patients that are on our combined transplant list," Director, Abdominal Transplant St. Luke`s Jameson Forster, M.D.

Although a milestone for the hospital to treat so many people in one day, doctors said it not uncommon to see multiple transplants occur within a similar time frame.

"It`s common in the transplant field to see bursts of activity followed by some lulls," Forster said.

The surgeon said he couldn`t do what he does for a living without the generosity of organ donors.