Dual transplant allows Auburn man to live life to the fullest

Organs could last a lifetime, nurse practitioner says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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After a successful dual transplant, Forrest Stumbo Jr.’s message is, “Just stay positive.” When he was 5 years old, the Auburn resident received a diagnosis that would change his life. “I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1975,” Stumbo said. “And then I struggled with that for most of my life. In 2006 I was told by my nephrologist that I would need to go on dialysis in five years. When he said that my jaw dropped. I just thought, ‘I’m going on dialysis, my life is going to change.’” Stumbo’s dialysis began in March 2008 after he caught a cold that landed him in the hospital. Before diabetes ever became an issue in his life, at 18 months old Stumbo was diagnosed with a rare case of the human papillomavirus, small polyps, or throat warts. The virus made it difficult for Stumbo to breath For the first nine years of Stumbo’s life his family traveled to Oakland every two to four weeks for surgeries on his throat, for a total of 156 surgeries. Doctors told Stumbo’s family the polyps should stop during puberty, but they weren’t sure if he would ever be able to speak. A tracheal tube was inserted to make breathing easier. When Stumbo was 9 the polyps stopped, the tube was removed and Stumbo was able to speak, although he was left with a raspy voice. The more than two years of dialysis had a huge impact on his life, Stumbo said. “Being on dialysis, I couldn’t swim,” he said. “I had to be hooked up to a machine at home every night. I was constantly tired after work, not being able to play with my kids outside. I would come home and sit on the bed.” Stumbo works for Placer County Health and Human Services, Children’s System of Care in a day treatment school. He and his wife, Danelle, also own the Postal Annex on Auburn Folsom Road. Stumbo said during the five years when his kidneys were failing he was always cold and had high blood pressure. On Nov. 22 surgeons at U.C. San Francisco performed a dual transplant on Stumbo’s pancreas and kidney. Even as the transplant was ready to go forward doctors discovered microscopic blood clots on the back of Stumbo’s kidney, which is rare because blood clots are usually found on the front of the kidney, Stumbo said. “Some of my symptoms, I felt like they didn’t know what to do, because they haven’t come across it (before),” Stumbo said. “I was like a medical mystery.” Cely Hynson, a nurse practitioner for post-pancreas and kidney transplants, who works on Stumbo’s case, said the surgery offers many patients the chance to live life again. “It kind of differs, but we have quite a few patients who soon after the transplant want to go back to work because they are so much better,” Hynson said. “They don’t have to worry so much about their blood sugars, and a lot of them (were) on dialysis and that’s the other thing they don’t have to worry about anymore.” The hospital performed 24 of the dual surgeries of this type last year, Hynson said. Although it varies from patient to patient, Hynson said it is possible to keep transplanted organs for one’s entire life if anti-rejection medication is taken properly. Forrest Stumbo was in the hospital for 20 days before returning home. On Feb. 7 he went back to work. Now he said he is able to enjoy life and spend more time on things he loves, including his children. The Stumbos have a son, Peyton, 8, and a daughter, Allyson, 5. “I’m helping my son by coaching his baseball team,” Forrest Stumbo said. “We went to Pacifica (for vacation). I never used to be able to go anywhere unless I knew I could hook up my machine, but we didn’t worry about it this time.” Forrest Stumbo said he is thankful for the support of so many people. “I’m just very grateful for, especially my wife, but all my friends and family that supported me through this process,” Stumbo said. “My coworkers, my boss have been wonderful.” Danelle Stumbo said she and their children are excited about her husband’s health. “Forrest is a strong, amazing man,” she said. “This was not an easy process for any of us. I am so happy to see him feeling so good, and the kids and I look forward to enjoying ‘daddy’ being back this summer.” The Stumbos said they are both very grateful for the donor family that made the surgery possible. Forrest Stumbo said his advice for anyone with diabetes is to make their health a priority and to not let themselves get depressed. “Just stay positive,” he said. “Take care of yourself.” Reach Bridget Jones at ------------------------------------------------------ Organ donation To sign up to be an organ donator visit