Dillon D Dillon’s Story: The Life-Changing Impact of a Kidney Transplant

“Don’t let hopelessness consume you. It can happen anytime. The seventh time I got a call, it was a miracle match.”

Post-kidney transplant, Dillon Devlin found his world transformed.

Back in Action After a Double Transplant

Dillon Devlin, 29, had Type 1 diabetes, but that didn’t stop him from traveling the country with a friend between 2014 and 2018. They hit 38 states, ending up in California for a while before coming home to New Jersey.

Along the way, Dillon went to pharmacies to get his insulin prescription refilled, but his increasingly high blood pressure was never addressed. By the time he got back to his home state and met with an endocrinologist and a nephrologist, he was shocked to learn that he was in stage 4 kidney failure and would need both a kidney transplant and a pancreas transplant.

“Kidney failure alone is an older person’s disease. A kidney and pancreas transplant is more typically needed in a younger person who has Type 1 diabetes,” explains Ronald Pelletier, MD, Director of Transplantation at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. “That’s because the pancreas is not making enough insulin, a hormone that controls the blood sugar level in the body.”

The Wait Begins

Ronald Pelletier, MD
Ronald Pelletier, MD

Dillon went from working at an auto salvage business, hoisting transmissions onto pallets, to needing three times - weekly dialysis. For eight months, he awaited a suitable kidney and pancreas for transplant. Six different possibilities fell through, one as he was actually being prepared for surgery. Finally, in November 2020, Dr. Pelletier successfully transplanted a new kidney and pancreas.

“All of a sudden I was waking up from surgery and my mom was saying, ‘You did it!’ ” he recalls. “I was standing up within six hours and out of the hospital in six days.” A subsequent period of rest and recovery synced up well with the pandemic-related lockdown.

Now he’s back to lifting weights and going for hikes, and is actively seeking to get back into the workforce. “It’s so strange to wrap my head around not having to take insulin,” he says. “Modern medicine is a complete marvel.”

“What I really love about kidney and pancreas transplantation is that you get to transform someone’s life,” Dr. Pelletier says. “Not only do they not need dialysis afterward, they’re no longer diabetic! That’s fantastic.”

Dillon’s advice to others awaiting transplant: “Don’t let hopelessness consume you. It can happen anytime. The seventh time I got a call, it was a miracle match.”

Learn more about kidney and pancreas transplants at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.