She’s one of the most loved team members

The playful inquisitive Golden Retriever, “Avery” is one of the most loved team members at IU Health West.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J Banes,

She waddles down the hallway like a fashion model strutting on the runway. She turns three in May and already this Golden Retriever exudes the confidence of a 30-year-old. At home, Avery is playful and inquisitive but when she is on duty at IU Health West, she is meek and loving.

“I love that dog. She makes me happy and reminds me of my big German shepherd,” said patient Margaret “Maggie” Raub. With a little coaxing by Raub, Avery climbs onto her hospital bed and relaxes like she’s in no hurry to leave.

For the past year, Avery has made regular hospital visits with her owner Lesley Lautenschlager, an occupational therapist at IU Health West.

“Goldens are such great therapy dogs because they are people oriented and are a mild, gentle breed,” says Lautenschlager who has been with IU Health for 15 years and has been an occupational therapist for 31 years.

Lautenschlager first introduced “Moose” to the hospital patients in 2004. He went on to become a companion dog to a young girl with cerebral palsy. Then came “Chama” who joined Lautenschlager for 10 years.

When Chama passed in 2016, Lautenschlager vowed she wouldn’t take on another dog. The loss was too hard. But a veterinary that works with the Indiana Canine Assistance Network (ICAN) introduced her to Avery, a cousin of Chama. It was love at first site.

And it’s easy to see why.

Avery is a natural at interacting with the patients and staff. She makes everyone feel comfortable and at home. When her volunteer handler Lee McKnight enters the room, Avery nudges her and rolls over for tummy rubs.

“Patients just smile, lighten up and lose focus on themselves even momentarily,” said Lautenschlager.

Married 26 years to John Lautenschlager, a physical therapist, the couple has three children, Riley, 20, who is studying pre-veterinary science at Purdue, Jacob, a pre- med student at IU, and Dan, 23, an exercise science major at IUPUI.

It wasn’t always a Golden-haired dog that captured Lautenschlager’s attention.

In her youth, Lautenschlager was an active 4-H member who showed sheep, cattle and pigs. She had an early love of horses and began riding when she was in college.

“I think I came out of the womb loving horses,” said Lautenschlager. “My parents thought I’d grow out of it but it never happened.” Her daughter followed in her footsteps participating in 4-H and after her first year of showing dogs, Riley Lautenschlager decided she wanted to do more. She went on to become a nationally ranked junior handler – qualified for the prestigious Westminster Dog Show, and was a finalist at the Eukanuba National Championship.

“If you go to dog shows there are a lot of horse people and if you go to horse shows there are a lot of dog people,” said Lautenschlager. “The people are similar. Horse people are usually dog people.”

So she switched gears and along came her first Golden. At home, Avery hangs out with two Australian Shepherds – national show dogs.

With a canine good citizen certificate, Avery is trained to offer comfort but she also helps Lautenschlager with occupational therapy.

“I’ve used her to help patients with grooming. I had a patient who was blind and loved to brush her. It helped with hand mobility and range of motion,” said Lautenschlager. Some patients like to walk Avery. It gives them more purpose to their activity, said Lautenschlager.

And some patients like Margaret Raub just feel more at home in Avery’s presence.

“If she could stay on my bed all day, I wouldn’t mind being in the hospital so much,” said Raub.

Caregivers offer hope to victims of abuse, sexual assault

The Center of Hope at IU Health Arnett recently celebrated a year of providing personal care to patients who are victims of abuse.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

They come through the hospital doors at all hours – some covered in blood, bruised, and blurry-eyed. Their tears are a cry for help. They need a safe place and someone they can trust.

For months, Megan Shupe, a nurse with IU Health Arnett Hospital spent countless hours researching statistics and gathering support and resources to create that safe place. She met with fire fighters, prosecutors, police officers, paramedics, nurses, and doctors talking about victims of abuse. Specifically, Shupe wanted to create the West Central Region’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program. With a grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute last November, the Center for Hope opened its doors.

Emergency rooms – secluded from the mainstream – provide an area for victims of sexual assault and abuse to meet privately with specially trained examiners. The patients are consoled, evidence is collected, and showers are provided along with fresh clothing. There are currently two nurses available to take calls independently and an additional 11 nurses who are working to complete their forensic training

Practitioners recently joined in a candlelight service to commemorate the first year of around-the-clock care for victims. Seventy-one candles were lighted for the 71 victims treated in the past year. Fourteen were less than 18 years old. Two were physical child abuse cases and others were victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

“The biggest surprise to me in the past year has been the patient responses,” said Shupe. “I have been in total amazement of the courage and strength displayed by the patients and that even during a very difficult time, they are able to express gratitude and show kindness.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report one in four women and one in nine men have been a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime. One in three women and one in six men have been a victim of sexual violence in their lifetime. One in four children have been the victim of abuse or neglect.

“Violence is a national and local healthcare concern,” said Shupe. “Patients affected by violence need specialized care for a multitude of reasons and forensic nurses have the additional training required to provide that level of care. The goal for every hospital should be to provide the services needed without requiring the patient to transfer to another hospital. Forensic Nurses are the Gold Standard of care and it is vital because our patients deserve this specialized care that is truly designed for them. “

Headquartered at IU Health Arnett Hospital the program also serves surrounding areas including IU Health White Memorial, and Frankfort hospitals.

Pancreatic cancer patient, 40, says, “Today we cry; tomorrow we fight”

They first thought he had gallstones, but further testing showed Chad Handley had pancreatic cancer. He turned to IU Health Simon Cancer Center for his care.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

He was sitting in a corner infusion pod, surrounded by his aunt and uncle, Bobbi and Eric Princell and his childhood best friend Jason Lakes from his hometown of Brookville.

Chad Handley stood up to greet some visiting Colts players shook hands and remained standing for photos. The smile never left his face.

If it wasn’t for the fact that he was connected to a pump in the IU Health Simon Cancer Center, his visitors may have second-guessed his diagnosis.

It started with chest pain in June.

“I thought it was anxiety with my busy work schedule,” said Handley, 40, who received a landscape architectural degree from Ball State University and has worked in real estate most of his life. After a week of pain, he visited his family doctor who thought he might be having gallstones. But blood work raised concerns about his liver and kidney numbers and he was rushed to an ER near his Fishers home.

An MRI followed and showed a mass on the head of his pancreas that was causing a blockage in his bile duct and enlarging his gall bladder. He was admitted to another hospital and underwent surgery to drain and alleviate the pressure from the blockage.

He met his wife Jen at Ball State and together they have two children Quinn, 11, and Darby, 9. On the same day Darby celebrated her ninth birthday Handley was in the hospital. The next day he was told he has pancreatic cancer. “My kids are my world. They fully understand and accept what their Superman is going through, and they are my biggest driver in tackling this disease,” said Handley.

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month – a time to make people aware of the disease and when to seek medical advice. Pancreatic cancer is often called the “silent killer” because there are so few symptoms that can serve as warning signs. Because it can be detected late, it can spread quickly. It is a disease where malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of the pancreas – the gland behind the stomach and in front of the spine.

The American Cancer Society estimates about 56,770 people (29,940 men and 26,830 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year. About 45,750 people (23,800 men and 21,950 women) will die of pancreatic cancer. The disease accounts for about three percent of all cancers in the United States and about seven percent of all cancer deaths.

For Handley – who was given two to five years to live – the day he was diagnosed was the day he decided he would not become a statistic.

“That day my world changed for ever. That day I told my wife, my mom and my sister I was not going to lose to this disease. I specially told my sister, ‘today we cry and it’s okay, but tomorrow we fight.’ And that’s what we’ve all done,” said Handley.

He and his wife credit their family and a strong support group of friends with helping them through that fight. It was one friend who pushed Handley to get a second opinion on treatment options. Specifically, the friend suggested he reach out to Dr. Max Schmidt with IU Health Simon Cancer Center. Handley was already scheduled for surgery at another hospital when he emailed Dr. Schmidt.

“The next day he called me on his lunch break and said he would call me that night. It was shocking to talk to him on his cell. My wife and I felt very comfortable with him,” said Handley. “Dr. Schmidt was direct in telling me my life expectancy was two to five years but he also told me I could beat it and that was all I needed to hear.”

On July 1, Handley underwent a Pancreaticoduodenectomy (commonly called a “Whipple procedure”) – surgery to remove the head of the pancreas, gallbladder, bile duct and portion of small intestine.

“On July 1 I believe my miracle happened,” said Handley. During the operation Dr. Schmidt was able to remove the tumor and all the margins.

“I remember waking up with my wife, who is my rock, my mother and my sister staring at me. Dr. Schmidt came in and assured me everything went well. He never left my side the entire recovery. It’s amazing how approachable he is. How you can text, call, whatever you need and he answers anytime and anywhere,” said Handley. After surgery he began seeing oncologist Dr. Patrick Loehrer and began chemotherapy on August 12. “Again I asked if I could win and the answer we ‘yes, 100 percent,’” said Handley.

Since June, Handley is down 40 pounds and has the following advice about men’s health:

“If you’re out of shape, get in shape. Watch the beer consumption, and get all the physicals you can. I am in the best shape of my life. I run three miles a day, three days a week, I bike with my kids, I coach, and I eat as healthy as I can. My real estate company has hit new heights. And all my relationships, from my wife, to my family, to my hometown and college friends and current neighbors and my coworkers and business partners are at an all time high and strength. That says a lot about the care I received,” said Handley. “I am going to be the 40-year-old that crushes pancreatic cancer and I owe it all to IU Health. I know I could lose, but there is not a day that I believe that to be the case.”

New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 2

What’s it like to start a career as a nurse at a bustling urban hospital? Find out as Rachel Ketelaar dons her red scrubs at IU Health Methodist Hospital and experiences the challenges and joys of her dream job nursing sick patients back to health.


  • More RN foundations learnings BUT…..I got to start off the day on the floor, A2N, where I will work at Methodist. I attended the morning huddle at 7 a.m. That’s where the charge nurse gives brief updates to the day nurses coming on shift. The “vibe” was light and full of camaraderie. The nurses and techs laughed with each other, told a joke, and then prayed with each other before going to start their busy days.
One of my favorite parts of the day – the morning huddle where we’re briefed on the day ahead. Our little huddle room can be jammed with 12 or more people!
  • I walked to an education building near Methodist to continue my fundamentals training. (It was a miracle I figured out how to get there.) The topics were IVs, medication administration, and blood transfusions. My group went to a stroke unit and a progressive care unit to practice on real patients. The nurses loved being able to give us tasks to lighten their loads and aid in our learning.
  • Personally today, I had the opportunity to prime IV tubing, hang IV antibiotics and set-up the IV pumps, attempt the insertion of an IV, remove a Foley catheter, apply a new catheter, and observe a feeding tube placement. I was a little nervous and it was a little overwhelming trying to do everything right. I had to give myself a little pep talk during the day.
  • The day was busy but flew by! I loved being on my feet, being busy, and being in the flow of the hospital. Most of all, I loved meeting the patients and getting a glimpse of who they are. I learned that some of these patients are going through some of the worst days of their lives, and it is my job as a nurse to treat them as a person – not just as a patient.


  • I’ve decided my favorite part of the day so far is the 7 a.m. huddle and being with the nurses I am going to be working with. I love meeting them, learning their names, and getting to know them better. I feel more confident that A2N is going to be a great fit for me.
  • I must say this: at times, understanding medical abbreviations can be like learning a different language. It’s beneficial for nurses and doctors to talk in shorthand to communicate quickly. But sometimes I get confused about what they’re saying! Most of the abbreviations I recognize from nursing school, but some I have to figure out (often by Googling). Examples: CHG bath (bath with alcohol soap), HTN (hypertension) and BKA (below the knee amputation).
Pictures of some of the fellow nurses on my floor, A2N, a cardiovascular unit at Methodist. We stay really busy – our 26 beds are usually full.


  • It’s crazy to say this so soon, but things are starting to click. My RN foundations group has hung so many IV antibiotics these past few days that I finally feel confident doing it on my own. I’m also becoming more confident in where to find notes, labs, and orders in the patients’ charts. Now I just need to get comfortable with other challenging tasks that experienced nurses take for granted, like administering a blood transfusion and changing central line dressings and the dressings on a trach.


  • My week ended with an evening meet-and-greet on my floor. They fed us dinner and snacks (sandwiches, veggies and dip, fruit, and dessert). People were so sweet and some gave me advice. One nurse, who’s new here, told me that most of what I need to know I will learn in the first month. That’s good to know! We also played a game of “What is your favorite job?” Most of the people said nursing and some of them have been working here for 30 years!
  • My RN foundation training is now wrapped up. And I met my preceptor, Ty. She seems very approachable and she’s pretty young, but she seems to know so much. I am SO excited to get on my floor and into the flow of things next week! The learning curve is intense, but RN foundations has taught me so much and prepared me for starting on my floor next week.

Read more:
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 1

Apply Yourself – Being a nurse at Indiana University Health means building a professional nursing career designed by you, with competitive benefits and a culture that embraces your unique strengths and supports your personal and professional goals. If you are seeking an organization where you can engage professionally, develop clinical expertise, embrace learning, foster new relationships and fuel your spirit of inquiry, apply today.

Surgical tech, Army veteran works well under pressure

Derrick Newell, a surgical tech at IU Health Saxony says he’s learned to think on his feet.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes

When Derrick Newell relocated to Indianapolis four years ago it was his 14th move. He wanted to make it his last for a while. So he pursued a career that would challenge him and also allow him time to be home with his family.

Married to Tyeisha for eight years, he is the father to three sons and a daughter. A native of Michigan Town, Ind. Newell graduated from Clinton Central High School and joined the US Army where he met his wife. During his time of service he worked as a truck driver and was stationed in Oklahoma, Mississippi and New York. He also served in Korea and Iraq. It was his stint in the Middle East where Newell said he learned the importance of critical thinking.

“You’re under extreme pressure when you’re in firefights or ambush. If you can think with that going on, you can think in most situations,” said Newell.

In his role as a surgical tech, Newell works alongside orthopedic surgeons Drs. R. Michael Meneghini, Lucian C. Warth, and general surgeon Dr. Larry Stevens. He also works with various podiatry doctors who rotate through surgery.

“Derrick provides excellent patient care through his performance and dedication to his job. He holds himself accountable for the highest standards, something that earns him the respect of his colleagues and of myself personally. We are all very thankful to Derrick for his exemplary service to our patients and his service to our country,” said Dr. Meneghini.

Newell says the best part of his job is that he is constantly learning.

“When you’re in OR you’re constantly trying to stay two steps ahead of the doctor,” said Newell. “Repetition is the best learner for me. There are about 20 instruments every surgeon uses and then other instruments vary based on the procedure. In school we learned the basics of anatomy but in surgery we are seeing firsthand hip and join replacements and it’s fascinating.”

Newell’s supervisor Heather Pierce, clinical manager of surgical services says Newell is a humble and dedicated individual. “He has been invaluable with taking the lead with some of the new surgeons coming in and helping to precept new surgical technicians,” said Pierce.

More about Newell:

  • He wrestled in high school and now coaches one of his sons at Fall Creek Junior High.
  • His other hobby is traveling to different states playing on a 15-person paint ball team with his sons.

Sometimes the small things matter most

Whether you’ve personally experienced cancer, heard stories or seen bumper stickers, you know cancer treatment is a challenge.

“With cancer radiation, you lose your ability to focus,” says IU Health Simon Cancer Center patient Kathy Elder. “Brain fog is real.”

Kathy says the best part of her therapy was a device 3D-printed by the IU Health 3D Innovations Lab. Called an AVATAR, which stands for Audio Vision Assisted Therapeutic Ambience in Radiotherapy, it was made available to Kathy to use during her radiation treatments.

“The longer you can hold your breath during radiation, the more radiation you can receive,” Kathy explains. “I watched a bar graph on the AVATAR screen to see how much longer I needed to hold my breath. This was huge for me. Instead of my treatment taking 30 minutes, we were able to cut my session time in half.”

Kathy laughs while recalling the 3D-printed AVATAR device. “It could stand some improvements,” she says. “It’s a little wobbly when clamped to the treatment table.”

When you give during Giving Tuesday, you are helping to design the next generation AVATAR 2.0 – a fabrication that will allow those undergoing cancer treatment to have a better patient experience. Enhancements will allow radiation therapists to send notes of encouragement and instructions to patients during radiation therapy.

On Giving Tuesday, Dec. 3, you can give to bring comfort and care to patients like Kathy. You can also see how AVATAR increased accuracy of radiation and eliminated the need for daily anesthesia for a five-year-old patient named Jolene. Visit

“Never have a bad day” – Patient paints through cancer

Cancer robbed him of his voice box but Brian Bullerdick has found a new form of communication – his art.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

With a red marker, Brian Bullerdick writes answers on a white board. He nods. He smiles. His eyes light up when he responds to questions. There is no sign that he is sad.

In fact, Bullerdick is happy to be alive. So much so that he started a Facebook Page “Never Have a Bad Day with Brian.”

It was November 2017 when Bullerdick received his diagnosis. After battling what he thought was strep throat he learned that he had an aggressive cancer growing at the base of his tongue. Radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy followed with no success.

Before his illness he worked 35 years on rebuilding some of Indiana’s main thoroughfares – including the I-69 corridor. Even then Bullerdick set a course for his life that focused on a path of lest resistance.

“I always felt I could get more out of the workforce if they were dwelling on the good and not the bad. I would always go by the philosophy ‘if things go good the crews do good.’ If things didn’t go as well as expected then it was my fault for not preparing them or not getting them what they needed to be successful,” said Bullerdick.

Thirty-five years ago he married his wife Donna and together they have five children and three grandchildren. His family became Bullerdick’s focus as he prepared to begin the next phase of his cancer treatment.

“If you have ever been in the presence of any of the Bullerdick family members you will know they are a one of a kind family. They show love to any and everyone who walks through the door and they move through life conquering whatever comes their way. They are a family who loves humor and laughing and they are still able to find joy among the terrible storm that comes their way,” said one entry on his Facebook page.

They put their faith in a team of caregivers at IU Health. His last option to beat what he calls “the monster” was a 12-hour surgery where doctors removed and reconstructed his tongue and removed his voice box.

Every day after his surgery, when doctors came in to change his bandages, Bullerdick wrote in red letters on the white board: “We must win!!”

“I think they started to get it after a while – there was no giving up on me. I told them I was part of the team. They were the best and they were referred to as the ‘A team’ around there. They lived up to that. They do amazing things everyday,” he said.

After 25 days in the hospital, Bullerdick began his road to recovery in January and he turned to something he’d learned in high school – drawing – to help him navigate that road.

A sketch of his round-faced granddaughter, Bella, his hockey-playing grandson, Seth, granddaughter Adeline carrying a bouquet of flowers and and his daughter Abbey holding her dog Wyatt were among his early works. Over the past nine months, his artwork, like his health has flourished. Colorful flowers, a self-portrait, and a street seen in Morocco are among his signature paintings.

In February he delivered artwork to some of his caregivers at IU Health West and wrote: “I took myself to the hospital to see the people who helped change and save my life. I also took them some artwork. I don’t want them to forget about me. I don’t think that will happen I talk to them every week. They always make me feel good about myself. They will always have a place in my heart.”

One of those caregivers was Michelle Hoy, a social worker oncologist who has been with Bullerdick throughout his recovery.

“Brian is very resilient. Of all the things he’s been through and all the challenges he’s faced he continually finds ways to give others hope and give back to others through his art. He is inspirational and has an amazing family who is very close. Through this experience they have grown and exhibit such strength and courage,” said Hoy.

Over the months of his recovery, his artwork has become more vibrant and has become his voice – one of confidence and inspiration.

In one message he wrote five things he’s learned over the course of his journey with cancer: 1) Stop trying to please everyone 2) Don’t have fear of change 3) Don’t live in the past 4) Don’t overthink things 5) Don’t doubt yourself.

His messages came out through his paintings and Bullerdick began displaying his works at IU Health West and Simon Cancer Center. He’s in the process of planning a holiday exhibit at his daughter’s Main Street studio in Crawfordsville – Abbey Elaine Photography.

He drew horses, elephants, camels and cheetahs, and used words to describe them like “strength” “confidence,” and “stamina.” To help him in his recovery he remains in the care of IU Health hematologist/oncologist Dr. Sara Grethlein, meets with a dietitian and exercises through CrossFit. Over time he began communicating through an iPad.

In June Bullerdick returned to IU Health where he underwent surgery to remove his left kidney that showed signs of cancer. Just days after surgery he wrote: “We are still winning.”

Weeks later, he began painting in oils – one of his first works of a running horse was titled: “Racing in the Storm.” Next came the painting of a tree that represented “growth.”

This month, Bullerdick received news that told him he had made it through the storm. His scans showed no signs of cancer from head to toe.

As he shared the news through his Facebook Page he wrote: “I try to be cautious but I think I’m on the right track to beating this thing. I like the way I’m feeling both mentally and physically these days. I’ve gotten through the tough times with a group of really dedicated people, and an unbelievable family who never gave up on me. I keep telling people I’m going to do great things in my future. I’m defying the odds, I try to live the positives in my life and work to “never have a bad day”.

And about his art he says: “I still only paint things that make me feel good. There is a story for every painting I do. I like just looking at them and reminiscing what was going on in my life at that time. It’s been great for my rehab and helps me stay busy.”

Patient, organ donor is honored by caregivers

When a patient passed and became an organ donor, his caregivers celebrated his life with an honor walk at IU Health University Hospital.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes

The hall was still.

The polished floor of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at IU Health University Hospital was lined with caregivers. Some looked down at that polished floor; some wiped tears.

It was the morning shift change – a time when everyone is generally bustling about preparing for the day ahead. But on this November day when the temperatures outside hovered at 49 degrees, the climate inside was warmer than usual. Time stood still for just a few moments.

A patient had died and he was an organ donor – giving others the gift of life.

“As soon as we found out that the patient would be an organ donor we began organizing an honor walk,” said nurse Brandie Kopsas-Kingsley, Shift Coordinator

Medical Intensive Care Unit, Medical Progressive Care Unit. It was a first for the unit.

An honor walk is often been called “the loneliest walk.” It is when a patient is wheeled from his room to the operating room to become an organ donor. This time the patient was not alone.

Ciara Goodbar, who has been a nurse with IU Health for two years, cared for the patient in his final days. When his body began shutting down, and it was made known that the patient would be a donor, the Indiana Donor Network (IDN) was contacted. Steven Ashley, a nurse with the IDN worked with the staff at IU Health to prepare for the Honor Walk.

“With Steve’s guidance and support we were able to coordinate the time and page out an honor walk request to the charge nurses,” said Kopsas-Kingsley. Many came in from home to show their support. Other caregivers including pharmacists and respiratory therapists joined the somber remembrance. For some it was their first honor walk.

According to the IDN nearly 1,300 Hoosiers and more than 114,000 people nationwide are awaiting life saving transplants. That number is enough to fill Lucas Oil Stadium almost twice. In the United States, another person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. It’s estimated that 20 people die each day waiting for a life-saving organ. Organs that can be donated for transplantation include kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas and small intestine. Tissue donation includes cornea, skin, heart valves, bones, veins and tendons. Last year, there were 3,977, 508 registered donors in Indiana. A single organ donor may save up to eight people, and a single tissue donor may enhance the lives of up to 50 people.

As the caregivers observed moments of silence in honor of their patient, they recognized his gift of life that would save others.

“I was so humbled to be a part of this tribute to our patient,” said Stephanie Hughes, a nurse on the medical intensive care unit. “I have been a nurse for 32 years and this was my first honor walk. In death, he was still a hero. To be able to acknowledge this for him and honor him with his walk was very special.”

This patient is thankful to be part of transplant history

For the first time in IU Health history – a team completed 30 kidney transplants in a single month.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

At a recent outpatient clinic visit, Beverly Mays talked about her plans in the coming weeks.

“Instead of a scoop, I can have a plate full,” said Mays, of Argos, Ind. She’s ready for a Thanksgiving feast at the home of her husband’s sister. She’s been married for three years to Mark Mays and has two adult sons.

For the past 15 years, Mays has struggled with poor health – including a lack of appetite – a result of polycystic kidney disease. An inherited disorder, the disease is characterized by clusters of cysts that develop in the kidneys.

On October 31, Mays became the 30th kidney transplant at IU Health for the month. The transplant marks a record for both IU Health and Indiana. Mays is under the care of IU Health nephrologist Dr. Muhammad Yaqub, transplant surgeon Dr. Andrew Lutz, and clinical transplant coordinator Monica Robinson.

IU Health has a nationally recognized organ transplant team that cares for patients before, during and after transplant. All work together to give patients the best possible outcomes. In addition to some 500 transplants performed annually, IU Health is known as a healthcare facility where other specialists from across the country refer patients. Last year, more than 200 kidney transplants were performed at IU Health.

Mays is one of three family members who received a kidney transplant. Her mother and her sister – also diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease – received transplants. Mays was on peritoneal dialysis for a year and half before she received her transplant.

“On my worst days I was just exhausted,” said Mays. “Now with a healthy kidney I’m looking forward to eating food without looking at the label first and being able to venture from my house after 6 p.m. On dialysis I couldn’t go more than 20 feet away.”