Fox Files: Imperial man blames hospital rating system for his kidney transplant denials

IMPERIAL, Mo. – An Imperial man needs a kidney to save his life but he cannot find a hospital willing to do the transplant.

“I have a kidney,” said Randy Thomas. “I just want somebody to put it in.”

Thomas, 61, thought he was saved after learning one of his daughters was a perfect match.

“At first, I didn’t want any of my kids to donate it. They might need it later in life for their children or whatever, you know?” he said. “I didn’t want it, but we sat down and talked and my daughter wants to do it.”

On January 4, 2018, Thomas got a letter from a transplant team in Kansas City: “Congratulations! You have now been cleared for kidney transplant.”

Seven months later, in July 2018, he got another letter from the same transplant team: “…you are no longer eligible to receive a kidney transplant…” The letter said the decision was “based on complex coronary artery disease.”

Meanwhile, Thomas’ cardiologist reportedly said those problems were tied to his need for a kidney transplant. The doctor said they understand the risks and they want the transplant.

“If your patients are aware of this, give them the chance to say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” said Jessica Denbow, Thomas’ daughter.

Denbow said they’ve been rejected by two St. Louis hospitals and one in Kansas City, and 30 other hospitals won’t even respond.

“I just don’t understand how today, where medicine is at today, that you have a kidney that will work, it’s in the family and everyone knows the risk and is willing to sign whatever you want them to sign to give him a fighting chance, and you have a doctor telling you, ‘No, I’m not going to do it,’” she said.

“They took an oath to save lives at all costs. Sending him home with a bag of fluids and saying, ‘Oh, we’ll see how long it lasts,’ that’s not really preserving life,” said Deborah Thomas, Randy’s wife.

Fox 2 contacted one of Randy Thomas’ doctors in St. Louis, who confirmed Thomas needs the transplant now. He said Thomas could be dead in two years if he doesn’t get it.

Thomas said his doctors explained to him why he’s being denied by treatment teams.

“If you’ve got 50 people that need it and you can only take 30, you’re going to take the best 30 to succeed to keep your numbers up,” Thomas said.

A 2016 study from the “Journal of the American College of Surgeons” appears to back him up. In it, federal-mandated reporting on transplant center performance that began in 2007 shows “…patients who could potentially benefit from transplantation are increasingly being denied…”

The Thomas family feels like they’re just a number. But they’re determined to find a hospital that sees them as a family who wants a better future.

“I have absolutely no life, whatsoever,” Thomas said. “I do dialysis all night long.”

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