UF renal transplant program helps surfer catch next wave

On the eve of the new year 2009, Bill Hahn (left) received a kidney-pancreas transplant with help from members of the Renal Transplant Program at Shands at the University of Florida medical center. This week he and fellow surfer and transplant recipient Richard Salik are preparing for the 24th annual National Kidney Foundation Surf Festival, slated for Sept. 3 to Sept. 7 at Cocoa Beach.On the eve of the new year 2009, Bill Hahn (left) received a kidney-pancreas transplant with help from members of the Renal Transplant Program at Shands at the University of Florida medical center. This week he and fellow surfer and transplant recipient Richard Salik are preparing for the 24th annual National Kidney Foundation Surf Festival, slated for Sept. 3 to Sept. 7 at Cocoa Beach.

Like many people, professional surfer Bill Hahn was considering his future on the eve of 2009.

Champagne and parties were distant from his mind.

Instead, he prepared himself for a kidney-pancreas transplant with help from members of the Renal Transplant Program at Shands at the University of Florida medical center.

He wondered if he would ever ride the waves again, of if he would regain the active lifestyle he had before diabetes and kidney disease took a toll on his health.

Looking back, those fears seem groundless.

Today, Hahn is preparing for the 24th annual National Kidney Foundation Surf Festival, slated for Sept. 3 to Sept. 7 at Cocoa Beach. This year's event features professional and amateur surfing competitions, live music and a silent auction to increase kidney-disease awareness, with an emphasis on prevention and support for organ donation and transplantation.

"I am back to running 20 miles a day and running my business in the health and wellness industry," Hahn said"My life has been forever enriched by the kidney and pancreas transplant I received at Shands. No more diabetes, no more insulin shots and no more dialysis."

The key to success with a transplant is limiting the time spent on dialysis before the transplant, according to Herwig-Ulf Meier-Kriesche, M.D., a professor of medicine and the medical director of renal and pancreas transplantation at the UF College of Medicine.

"Early contact with a transplant center when kidney disease is discovered is the key to timely transplantation and exceptional accomplishments as witnessed in these outstanding surfers," Meier-Kriesche said. "The stories of surfers Bill Hahn and Richard Salick who are organizing this event highlight the impressive recovery from kidney disease which kidney transplantation can offer and that exceptional quality of life can return with a successful transplant."

Next year, for the quarter centennial of the surf festival, the Renal Transplant Program would like to offer a "surf clinic"—not the type of clinic that teaches surfing skills, but a traditional health clinic to offer care for surfers and attendees at the event.