It’s not a medical miracle, but two sisters from eastern Iowa are sharing an unusual medical success story. Both women needed a kidney transplant and both underwent surgery last week at University Hospitals in Iowa City.
Karen Parizek, of Lone Tree, says when the call came about a donor organ, there was some initial confusion as both she and her sister were called. Parizek says, "Then at that point, we started putting things together; I was number two and she was number one." Apparently, no one realized the two sisters were getting called at the same time for the same donor organs. Parizek’s sister Elaine Behrens (BARE-uns), of Wilton, says things got straightened out quickly.
Behrens says, "Sunday morning, when they told us that both kidneys were coming to Iowa City, that was real hope." It was also very out-of-the-ordinary. Each sister got a single kidney from the same deceased donor and the operations were performed one right after the other. It’s never happened at University Hospitals before. Because a national network handles transplant lists, the kidney specialist, Dr. Andy Bertolatus, didn’t know the recipients were related.
Bertolatus says: "I thought, ‘Good grief. How can two random people look that much alike?’ because they look almost like identical twins to me. Then I found out sometime after that, everyone had finally recognized that they were sisters and I should have thought of that right from the start." Doctors say both sisters are expected to make a full recovery.