Transplant patients recover at former ranch - East Valley Tribune: Phoenix & The Valley Of The Sun

Transplant patients recover at former ranch

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Posted: Friday, November 5, 2004 9:44 am | Updated: 5:52 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

November 5, 2004

Georgann Sanders and her daughter Kris shared breakfast Thursday morning in the quiet dining room of a former Scottsdale Arabian horse ranch house.

They reflected on their good health just five months after Kris, 36, donated a kidney to her mother at Mayo Clinic Hospital in northeast Phoenix. Georgann, of Henderson, Nev., and Kris, of Minneapolis, had lived for a few weeks at Arizona Transplant House at Brusally Ranch in Scottsdale — the only nonprofit hospitality house designated for transplant patients in Arizona.

"I just saw my doctor yesterday for my first follow-up test," said a grinning Georgann Sanders, 56. "And I got a strong kidney from my strong daughter."

The pair will join about 300 former residents for a reunion from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Brusally Ranch, 11600 N. 84th St.

The house has served 1,000 pre- and post-operative transplant patients since its opening in July 1999, said executive director Tom Davie.

Transplant House was a peaceful place to stay while recovering from their July 1 transplant operation, Kris Sanders said. "It gave us a home to be in, rather than feeling like a traveler every night."

In 1984, Davie’s wife, Mary Davie, helped found the nation’s first transplant house at Mayo Clinic Rochester in Minnesota. Because of its success, Mayo Clinic Scottsdale planned to create a similar program when it began offering liver, kidney and bone marrow transplants in June 1999, Tom Davie said. Mayo added pancreas transplants in 2002 and plans to add a heart transplant program within 18 months, said Dr. David Mulligan, chairman of transplant surgery at Mayo Clinic Hospital.

Transplant House offers a kitchen and laundry facilities for organ transplant patients and families. It charges no fee, but asks for a donation of $25 per night, Davie said.

"The average stay is 30 days post-transplant, but we’ve had people stay here as long as five months."

Transplant House also receives donations from churches and organizations, and has only two paid staff members, with 12 regular volunteers doing housekeeping and maintaining the grounds, Davie said.

"It’s filled with compassion and love, and helpfulness," Mulligan said. "For a patient coming in with such bad medical problems . . . you couldn’t ask for a warmer, more relaxed place to be."

Brusally Ranch was founded as a 146-acre Arabian horse ranch by former architect Ed Tweed in 1949, with the ranch house added in the early 1950s, Davie said. Tweed left the ranch to his daughter, who sold parcels of it to developers, and donated the last six acres and original ranch house to Mayo Clinic Scottsdale in 1994, Davie said.

At the reunion, guests will be treated to a buffet lunch, entertainment and speeches from transplant recipients and a Mayo Clinic physician, Davie said.

The main focus of the day will be allowing guests to reconnect and make friendships with other transplant recipients, he said.

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