glad to be alive
'The Lord is good,' says Kenneth
Terukina, who looks forward to fishing,
seeing the year 2000 and
just enjoying life
Transplant team performs a flurry of operationsBy Helen Altonn
KENNETH Terukina didn't think two months ago that he would achieve his goal to live to the year 2000.
Now, his goal is to go fishing on his new 28-foot boat "Millennium 2000 Y2K."
Terukina, 59, of Haleiwa, had a life-saving liver transplant July 24 at St. Francis Medical Center.
"It was really something wonderful," said his wife, Charline. "I don't think he could have made it through the next couple weeks if he hadn't gotten a liver. It was a very nice blessing."
Terukina's liver was diseased because of a hepatitis C infection related to a blood transfusion in 1969.
He had deteriorated so much, said Donna Pacheco, liver transplant coordinator at the Transplant Institute at St. Francis, "It was very scary. We were afraid we were going to lose him."
Because he was so weak, he was in the hospital for two weeks after surgery, "which is long for us," she said.
'You look for the silver lining
in your traumatic experience and the
silver lining is all these people
WIFE OF KENNETH TERUKINA,
WHO IS RECOVERING FROM
A LIVER TRANSPLANT
"Most of the issues now are rehabilitation for his strength. His liver function is good and improving. His organ functions are back to normal."
He is still a little jaundiced, Pacheco said.
"But every time we see him he's dramatically improved."
Getting him back to fishing is the goal, she said.
"We told him ... we all want boat rides."
Charline Terukina said her husband was called to the hospital July 16 for possible surgery but the liver wasn't suitable. So they tried not to get their hopes too high when they received another call July 23, she said. They kept an appointment at the Queen's Medical Center the next morning to have fluids drained from Terukina.
His gastroenterologist got a call from transplant surgeon Linda Wong and told him, "Leave the intravenous needle in and go to St. Francis," Mrs. Terukina said. "In a matter of two hours, Linda came in and said 'this is a go.' "
Terukina said her husband is walking farther each day, his appetite has picked up and swelling has decreased.
She said he had a shaky start after the operation because he was so sick before and had problems during and after surgery.
"There were a few stumbling blocks but it's OK," she said. "We are just so grateful to the donor families. ... I know for my husband, he was given a second chance at life."
The generosity of co-workers in the state library system also enabled Terukina, a technician at Waialua Public Library, to take five months off to care for her husband. She said the personnel director sent out an e-mail asking for donations and was "just overwhelmed."
More than 1,700 hours of vacation time were donated to her cause.
"I was just blown away," she said.
She said family members, friends and others in the community "have been so wonderful ... Everyone who knows us or knows of Kenneth's condition has come forward with prayers."
She said her husband said, "The Lord is good. He was hearing all these prayers."
"You look for the silver lining in your traumatic experience and the silver lining is all these people coming forward," she added. "These people sure have heart. We're so grateful to them."
Now Terukina is "looking forward to doing some good fishing and just relaxing and enjoying what he has around him, his family and his whole environment," she said.
He can barely talk because his throat is sore from the tubes used during the surgery, Terukina said. But he's already been on the telephone planning a millennium celebration with their six children here and on the mainland.
Three donors recently enabled the transplant team at St. Francis Medical Center to perform an unusual 12 organ transplants within 12 days.
Transplant team performs
a flurry of operations
"We used to do that on the mainland but not since I've been here," said Donna Pacheco, liver transplant coordinator at the St. Francis Transplant Institute.
"It was fun. We should do more. What you see is this incredible amount of people who have their lives changed in a very short time. It's very exciting."
The surgeries, done on July 24, Aug. 1 and Aug. 4, included three liver transplants, two heart transplants and seven kidney transplants.
All were from three anonymous donors except one kidney from a living relative, Pacheco said.
She said the patients with liver transplants are "doing wonderful." One heart patient was having problems, but the others are doing well, she said.
Many other island residents still are waiting for organ donations to extend or improve their lives.
More than 200 need kidneys, 18 need livers and three are waiting for hearts, Pacheco said.
For more information about organ donations, call 599-7630.
Helen Altonn, Star-Bulletin