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David Geffen School of Medicine

In His Own Words: A Kidney for Francie

C. Gregory Albers, MD '87, and Francie Albers before the kidney transplant.
From left: C. Gregory Albers, MD '87, and Francie Albers before the kidney transplant. Photo: Courtesy of Dr. C. Gregory Albers

C. Gregory Albers, MD ’87, FACG, was in private practice for seven years before his passion for research and teaching brought him back to the Division of Gastroenterology (GI) at UC Irvine, where he had completed a GI fellowship in 1993. Today, he has been at UCI for almost 13 years, and he is professor of clinical medicine, medical director of Diagnostic GI Services at the H.H. Chao Comprehensive Digestive Disease Center and an associate in the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center. His interests include colorectal cancer screening, chemoprevention research and capsule endoscopy.

On our wedding day, I gave my wife, Francie, my heart. Twenty-four years and one day later, I gave her my left kidney. For Francie and me, our 24th wedding anniversary will always be the most special because it will be known as the “kidney anniversary.”

It was a love story right from the start. I met Francie in the early ’80s. I was attending medical school at UCLA and was active with UCLA’s Catholic Center, playing guitar with the music group for several masses every weekend. Francie showed up (with another guy, I might add) at a “Punk and Preppie” dance that the center hosted one Friday night. I was part of a rock band performing and had dyed my hair blue to go with the punk theme. I was impressed with Francie right away, and, luckily, she saw past the blue hair and said later that I made a great impression on her. I suspect that was divine intervention! As time went on, we got to know each other, and, during one of our conversations, Francie told me about her autosomal polycystic kidney disease. I knew even before we started dating that someday I might gladly donate my kidney to her. We were so happy to be married at UCLA on February 4, 1989.

On February 5, 2013, I returned to UCLA, where I donated my left kidney to Francie via a living-donor transplant performed at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Life had come full circle at UCLA. Through the expertise and knowledge of the wonderful surgeons, nephrologists, coordinators, and other healthcare professionals, along with lots of prayers and faith, a miracle occurred. Francie went into surgery with approximately 10-percent kidney function, and two days post-op her function was 100 percent. The procedure was a great success. As for me, I was home within 24 hours and back to work in four weeks.

“Our” kidney is doing great, and so are we. Francie and I owe the success of this surgery first of all to our Heavenly Father; the amazing pre-, intra- and post-operative care we received at UCLA; and the outpouring of love, support, prayers and help of families, friends and colleagues. It’s awesome to think what God has in store for Francie with the renewed energy and vigor that a healthy kidney is bringing her. This kidney donation was one of my life’s purposes, and Francie feels incredibly blessed and joyful for the gift of renewed life. I feel certain that God brought us together at UCLA so many years ago, so I could someday donate my kidney to her.


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