Dandridge returns to a warm welcome from his “family” of students lining the hallways, hugging and cheering for their beloved custodian.

He needed a new kidney and heart. VCU Health gave them to him in one operation.

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Carlnealius “Tyrees” Dandridge, a custodian at Pole Green Elementary School in Mechanicsville, Virginia, came to VCU Health’s Hume-Lee Transplant Center in 2015 for a kidney transplant evaluation. At that consultation, doctors discovered that not only was his kidney failing, his heart was failing too. Dandridge was in need of a double transplant.

“His heart, which is supposed to pump blood to the body, was not working efficiently,” said Keyur Shah, M.D., section chief of heart failure at VCU Health Pauley Heart Center. “It wasn't adequately supplying blood or oxygen and nutrients to all of his vital organs.”

For three years, Dandridge lived a limited lifestyle at home with a continuous regimen of medication to help him survive.

“So I just started praying [that would] come,” Dandridge said. “All that has to come from the same place and I said, ‘Lord, you’re going to have to fix this’ … ‘cause that’s going to be harder.”

In October 2018, at age 59, Dandridge received the call for which he had prayed. The Hume-Lee Transplant Center and Pauley Heart Center surgical teams worked collaboratively to conduct a rare double-organ transplant, giving Dandridge the two organs he desperately needed — a kidney and a heart.

Four months later, Dandridge returned to work to find his “family” of students lining the hallways, hugging and cheering for their beloved custodian. And two months after that, Dandridge was one of the  patients honored at Hume-Lee Transplant Center’s Spring Celebration of Life event, which recognizes the center’s advances in patient care, research and education that are allowing Hume-Lee to transplant more kidneys than ever by using the latest surgery technology and new ways of donation.

“This is why I do what I do,” said Gaurav Gupta, M.D., associate medical director of kidney transplant at Hume-Lee Transplant Center. “To have a successful outcome; to have a patient who's able to do all the things that he or she wants to do — again — after a long hiatus where you are literally disabled and on death’s doors in many cases.”

To support transplant programs at Hume-Lee, visit here.