50 years after hospital's 1st kidney transplant, patient reunites with doctor

Tommy Hoag underwent a kidney transplant when he was just 6.

ByABC News
March 8, 2017, 2:19 PM

— -- Half a century after receiving a livesaving kidney transplant, Tommy Hoag was reunited with the doctor who helped him.

Hoag was the first patient to have the groundbreaking surgery at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, according to KTLA. In 1967 it was unclear how long a donated kidney could last, said the doctor, Richard Fine, a pediatric nephrologist formerly at the hospital.

"We had no idea 50 years ago that we could accomplish having someone survive with one kidney for 50 years," he told reporters yesterday when he was reunited with his patient.

Hoag's kidneys were damaged after a scarlet fever infection. He was only 6 years old at the time and too young for dialysis. Fine recommended that Hoag have a kidney transplant, and the boy's father decided to donate a kidney in hopes his son could survive.

"Kind of bewildering at times to think about, but it was an awesome thing he did," Hoag said yesterday. At the time, though, he didn't fully understand what it meant to undergo brand-new surgery.

"It was an awesome thing they did for me," Hoag said. "I didn't know that when I was 6 1/2. I just wanted to get better."

Fine went on to study dialysis in adults but said this early case has stuck with him.

"I think seeing Tommy here today and seeing how well he's done for such a long period of time is one of the highlights of my carer," he said.