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Spectrum News 1: Family Full of Organ Recipients

Reporter Sarah Pilla from Spectrum News 1 recently interviewed Edmund Huang, MD, and Jon Kobashigawa, MD, about a family that has undergone multiple organ transplants.

Cedars-Sinai patient Regina Armstrong, 44, is full of life, and it’s in part because she has received lifesaving organ transplants. Armstrong received a heart when she was just 12 and a kidney just a few weeks ago, courtesy of deceased organ donors.

“I look at this now with this transplant and I’m totally blessed and forever grateful to my donors there’s nothing I can say or do to express my gratitude in that,” said Armstrong.

In 1987, when she was just 12 years old, Armstrong caught a virus that spread to her heart, prompting the need for her to get a heart transplant. And because of the anti-rejection drugs that strain the kidneys, Armstrong always knew there was a good chance she would eventually need a kidney, which she received in December 2018. 

“In Regina’s case, she’s doing really well, but she still needs to be followed closely because rejections can happen anytime,” said Huang, a nephrologist in the Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Transplant Center. “We are recommending that she see a kidney doctor every month for now.”

Huang, who continues to treat Regina post-operatively for her kidney, told Spectrum News 1 that about 10 percent of heart transplant recipients will eventually require a kidney.

But, it was her old heart doctor, who has known her since she was 12, who says the big reason why Regina lives such a full life is because of her tenacity.

“You might say that she almost died, survived, and truly got back to a great quality of life. Got married, had a son. You might say she has lived it all, and there’s a great future to her as well,” Kobashigawa told Spectrum News 1. 

Part of that future is her family, and the transplant journey is something they share. Her father-in-law had a double lung transplant at Cedars-Sinai in 2018. Armstrong's husband received an experimental hand transplant at a different hospital following an accident in 2002. Click here to watch the family's complete story and read about their experience with organ transplantation.