NBC 4: Baldwin Hills Man Recovering From Rare Triple Organ Transplant
NBC 4 and ABC 7 recently featured the extraordinary story of Valance Sams Sr., a Baldwin Hills man who received a triple organ transplant at Cedars-Sinai.
Sams is one of just 46 people in the U.S. to receive a heart, liver and kidney transplant since the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the government agency that tracks organ transplants, started tracking the procedures in 1987.
A decade ago, Sams was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a rare inflammatory disease that caused a buildup of scar tissue on his heart. Since then, he’s been unable to work, exercise or even walk at times.
After learning that his heart, liver, and kidney were failing and being hospitalized for two months at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Sams received the miraculous news that an organ donor match was available.
“I had to sign off on it, and that was the hardest thing I had to do,” Sams told NBC 4. “It was either go ‘all in’ or ride it out with the bad organs, and I was going to give myself a shot at life.”
The 20-hour surgery was performed by a team of eight Cedars-Sinai doctors, including Nicholas Nissen, MD, director of the Liver Transplant Program; Tyler Gunn, MD, director of the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Program; and kidney surgeon Justin Steggerda, MD.
“This triple organ transplant was absolutely remarkable,” Nissen told NBC 4. “We expect him to grow to be a wonderful older gentleman.”
Sams is recovering and already back to coaching youth athletics in Baldwin Hills with his son. “I am just thankful for a new day, whether cloudy or sunny. Every day is a good day; every day is my birthday,” he told NBC 4.