By Nikita Stewart and Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, February 21, 2009
D.C. Council member Marion Barry's kidney transplant surgery was successfully completed late last night, officials at Howard University Hospital said.
Barry "is doing well," the transplant specialist who led the operation said through a hospital spokesman. "Everything went well."
Officials said that a healthy kidney, supplied by a 47 -year-old female donor, had been transplanted and that it appeared to be functioning fine.
Barry was to spend the night in the intensive care unit; tests to assess the functioning of the donated kidney were to be performed this morning, said Clive O. Callender, founder and director of the hospital's transplant center, in a statement issued through hospital spokesman Ron Harris.
Officials said the donor, whose surgery was completed earlier last night, was resting and doing well.
Barry had indicated that he would hold a news conference today, but it was thought unlikely last night that the session would take place.
Earlier yesterday, flowers began arriving at the hospital and friends came to support the controversial four-term mayor, who garners praise as a champion of the disadvantaged and scorn for past drug use and continued tax problems.
Barry (D-Ward 8), who will be 73 in two weeks, has been on dialysis for nearly three months. He underwent dialysis yesterday morning because his potassium level was high enough to complicate the surgery, an elevation that is not uncommon for those with kidney problems, Harris said. If Barry's potassium level had not fallen, doctors would have had to postpone the surgery, Harris said. "We were checking and double-checking," he said.
Callender, who has performed more than 500 kidney transplants since 1971, has scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. today to discuss the surgery.
Before Barry was wheeled into the operating room, the Rev. Anthony Motley led a prayer with him and close friends. "He talked to his mother and his son on the phone. His mother was in good spirits," Motley said.
The procedure, slated to begin at 2:30 p.m., got underway much later, according to a knowledgeable source, with doctors starting to operate on the donor, described only as a family friend. Barry arrived in the operating room about 30 minutes later.
Barry revealed his health problems last week after prosecutors asked a judge to send him to jail for not filing his 2007 taxes on time. Barry, who was sentenced to probation for tax troubles three years ago, has since filed his taxes. A hearing has not been set on the prosecutors' request. He has said that diabetes and hypertension, which he has battled for about 20 years, might have brought on his kidney failure. Recovery from a kidney transplant usually takes five days but can vary, Callender said in an earlier interview.
Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) has said that Barry has told him that he will be absent from council duties no longer than two weeks. Gray and other council members released statements wishing Barry success with his surgery and a quick recovery. "The Wilson Building just isn't the same without him," council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) said in a statement, referring to the city hall.