My name is Greg Zollner and I was a nephrologist for 25 years. Twenty years ago, I diagnosed myself with polycystic kidney disease, during a routine demonstration of an ultrasound machine. I’m aware of the irony of a kidney doctor getting kidney disease, but I’ve since seen many doctors get the illness they specialize in treating. At that time, I knew of no one else in my family with PKD.
My renal function gradually declined and I retired in 2017. By 2020, I was facing the need for either dialysis or transplant. A colleague of mine who was also a good friend offered to donate his kidney, and testing showed that he was a match.
In October 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and before vaccinations were available, the fantastic team at the University of Pennsylvania took out my kidneys and placed the donor kidney in a 10-hour operation.
I’m now more than one-year post-transplant and the kidney is working fine. I don’t have an explanation for why I was so fortunate. I know many patients who suffered far more than I did. I remain grateful for the sacrifices of the many people who’ve supported me. My family and friends, colleagues, and neighbors have all been there for me. And of course, I’m profoundly grateful to my donor, Chris, for going above and beyond the call of friendship.
One of my daughters has PKD. I continue to be hopeful about a future in which research and medical advances result in new and better treatments for all forms of cystic kidney disease.