A Kidney Transplant for the Record Books

“I prayed to Jesus. I said, I give my soul to you. Take it to heaven, or leave it with me here on earth. And then I woke up, and now I’m in the record books.”

Walter Tauro with Dr. Ramesh Prasad

Walter Tauro with Dr. Ramesh Prasad

Undergoing life-saving surgery is a good thing. Setting a Guinness world record while you’re doing it? Even better. And that’s exactly what Walter Tauro did. He underwent a kidney transplant and rewrote the record books in the process. You can look it up on the Guinness website, under “oldest ever kidney transplant recipient.”

Last June, at the age of 87, Walter made his way to the newly opened, donor-funded Transplant and Advanced Kidney Care Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital, and placed himself in the hands of Dr. Ramesh Prasad, the director of the hospital’s Kidney Transplant Program. Dr. Prasad then made history: He and his team performed a successful kidney transplant on the oldest-ever person to undergo such a procedure. Dr. Prasad says he was well aware that Walter was undergoing a risky operation.

“Obviously, the procedure, being invasive, is dangerous for someone that age. Very few patients over 80 receive kidney transplants,” says Dr. Prasad. “And older people are more prone to infections afterwards because their immune system is already weakened. So our team had a lot of hesitation about going forward. But to Walter’s credit, he jumped through every testing and follow-up hoop we put him through–and he came through with flying colours.”

For Walter, the decision to undergo the procedure was an easy one. He was sick and tired–literally tired all the time–of dialysis, which he had been on for five years, and he figured any outcome would be better than the status quo.

“They told me that it would be really risky. Very dangerous. I could be paralyzed. I might have a stroke. I might die on the table. I said, basically I'm already dead. If I die again, it doesn’t matter. I want to try. And they gave me a chance.”

Today, he is glad he did. He spent a few weeks in hospital post-surgery, and battled a few complications, but he is now feeling fine. And, of course, he is enjoying his status as a world record holder.

“I prayed to Jesus. I said, ‘I give my soul to you. You do what you want to do with it. Take it to heaven, or leave it with me here on earth.’ And then I woke up, and now I’m in the record books.”

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