El Paso sheriff's office co-workers begin recovery after kidney transplant

Update: Kidney Donation

EL PASO, Texas - Michaela Hebeker will always remember June 1, 2013.

Early that morning her life changed.

"It's a little surreal," Hebeker said, wearing a hospital gown with her hair tucked beneath a cap.

For over a year now she's had to undergo dialysis every day for nine hours a day.

"Hopefully she'll have a longer life and a more productive life and a life she would not have had otherwise," said Daniel Rollings, her co-worker at the El Paso County Sheriff's Office who volunteered to give Hebeker one of his kidneys.

And before the surgery they're both already looking forward to the recovery.

"I get to stay with mom. My mom will take care of me," Hebeker said.

Rollings admitted he felt a little nervous but not too much because they have good doctors.

Those doctors are the only two surgeons in El Paso who can perform this operation.

"There's always some tension because of things that can happen but you always have the feeling that somebody's life is about to change," said Dr. Hector Diaz Luna, the Transplant Surgeon.

Diaz Luna said they monitor the patients closely for infections and dehydration.

"This can be done safely, can be done efficiently, can be done using a minimally invasive approach," said Dr. Jorge Acosta, the only Living Donor Surgeon in El Paso.

With this type of operation the donor is in the operating room for a total of about two hours. The room has been meticulously prepared with everything and everybody carefully sterilized.

Technology has changed these kinds of operations, with Acosta saying it used to require a large abdomen incision. Now the incision is less than an inch long.

"It's what makes part of my job very rewarding," Acosta said. "You can be impacting somebody's life so much."

Acosta said he performs only 12 living donor operations every year. It's a relatively low number considering there are more than 1,800 people on dialysis in El Paso.

"I couldn't help myself. I needed someone to step up and help me," Hebeker said.

"Daniel here is the superstar," Acosta said. "Out of goodness of his heart, he decided to improve someone's life."

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