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14 November 2023
Meet Arturo and Federico, brothers from Colombia, South America, whose lives took them to two different corners of the world – Melbourne and New York. Their bond remained strong, and years later, they found themselves united in an extraordinary journey when Arturo faced a kidney condition that would redefine their connection.
Arturo, an anaesthesia doctor at Alfred Health in Melbourne, discovered the issue with his kidney in 2006 during the visa application process for his move to Australia. A routine urine test revealed an unusual protein, prompting him to seek the expertise of a specialist. At that time, the condition was mild and required no special treatment.
Fast forward to a family trip to Singapore and Indonesia five years ago, Arturo’s youngest daughter contracted a virus. While caring for her, the virus was passed on to him and it aggravated his kidney condition, making it more aggressive. This led him to undergo dialysis at Box Hill while he worked closely with a kidney specialist to find a long-term solution – a kidney transplant.
Enter Federico, his brother. Federico had migrated to New York 20 years ago and was working in advertising. Upon learning of his brother's condition, Federico immediately and selflessly offered to donate his kidney. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted these plans, preventing Federico from flying to Australia for the transplant.
Undeterred, Arturo explored potential donors within Australia, discovering that neither his wife, nor another friend who offered, were suitable candidates. Distraught, he reached out to Federico again. “Both Federico and his wife said yes without pausing for even a second. They are both such incredible human beings, and I am so lucky to have them in my life,” says Arturo.
With travel restrictions eased, Federico and his wife made the journey to Melbourne, where they underwent rigorous compatibility tests. Federico turned out to be a perfect match, and the date for the transplant was set.
Arturo chose Austin Health for the procedure, citing the hospital's renowned transplant program, “I spoke to my friends who work at Austin Health and everything I heard was positive. The transplant program here is very well known in the healthcare field and has had such positive outcomes.”
The next big step was the surgery. Arturo faced it with a positive mindset, “It was nerve-wracking, but I had to do it. I needed to get on with life.”
Just as Arturo was being put under for surgery, a comforting moment came from a scrub nurse, who came and held his hand. “It made me feel so safe,” mentions Arturo as he recollects the moment. The surgery was successful, with no complications and both Arturo and Federico began their recovery journey.
Arturo expresses deep gratitude for the unwavering support and care he received at Austin Health, “The doctors and nurses have been so patient with me, listening to me and supporting me. I am especially impressed by and grateful to the anaesthesia team. They were so kind and reassuring.”
“Everyone here, from the doctors to the cleaners seem to really enjoy working here. They actually want to be here, and that speaks volumes about the culture at Austin Health.”
Arturo shares a message of strength, “To everyone who is undergoing this process, stay strong” he says. “I feel fortunate to have been here and to have received such great care."
Arturo and Federico's story is a testament to the power of familial love, resilience, and the remarkable impact of generosity.