Cumberland Times-News

Latest news

August 31, 2013

Local kidney transplant recipient in his 38th year

CUMBERLAND — Still going strong 38 years after a life-saving kidney transplant, George Franklin III of Cumberland is thought of as the second longest living African-American transplant recipient in the Unites States.

“I feel great,” said Franklin, 59, who received his kidney transplant in 1975.

A retired computer operator, Franklin has become closely involved with the transplant community and has become a source for many seeking information on transplants and donation.

“I just have to remember that parts of me are 72,” Franklin said.

When he received his transplant, Franklin was 21. The female donor, who died in an auto accident, was 34.

“I have a relationship with the donor’s family even today. It’s something you can do.”

Franklin is the the founder and CEO of the Quarter Century Club.

“George is very informative. He has the answers and if he doesn’t he will help you find it,” said Essie Wilson, 61, a friend of Franklin from Fort Washington, who has had two kidney transplants herself.

Although it varies, according to Franklin, the average lifespan for a transplanted kidney is nine to 10 years.

The QCC tracks recipients across the country who have had transplants for 25 or more years.

“It’s difficult to find information due to confidentiality laws, but we have about 68 members in the club now,” said Franklin.

Franklin said he has a friend in Buffalo, N.Y., named Michele who has had 35 years with her transplanted kidney.

Within the transplant community, the number of years a transplanted kidney continues to function for the recipient is known as “tenure.”

Now tenured for 38 years, Franklin was asked why he thought his kidney has lasted so long, against the odds.

“I think it is in the accuracy of the match. The medication you are on also makes a difference,” said Franklin.

Franklin said that the kidney that was found for him was basically a perfect match.

It was a match for blood and tissue type and other important physiological factors, according to Franklin.

Franklin, originally from Washington, D.C., was born with one kidney. He went into renal failure right after high school.

“My first transplant in April of 1975 was from President Gerald Ford’s wife Betty’s, press secretary’s husband. It didn’t take. Six months later I had the transplant that worked,” said Franklin.

A common thread that many long term transplant survivors share is their belief that a positive attitude and getting support helps.

“Meeting others that have had transplants is important. You can share things that you can’t with anyone else,” said Christine Wilson, 55, of Silver Spring, who had simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplants.

Christine Wilson’s kidneys were damaged by diabetes.

“My mother, my twin sister and my faith have kept me going,” said Christine Wilson.

She had an identical twin sister who passed away from renal failure.

“I think success is in compliance. You have to take your medications, eat right and educate yourself,” said Essie Wilson, who takes the immune suppression drugs Prograff and Cellcept.

“My mother and my faith have been my rock. I accepted Christ into his life. He will not leave my side,” Franklin said.

He said he takes only two medications: methylprednisone and azathioprine.

“The medications that are given today are more toxic,” Franklin said.

Since advances in medicine and technology have made compiling transplant and donor lists much more streamlined, it has become easier to identify those needing transplants and their perspective donors.

With the advances in treatment, procurement and communication, the demand for organ transplants have increased.

This has placed more pressure to expedite transplants, which has caused a lowering of standards for making a match, according to Franklin.

To compensate for reduced matching criteria, the newer, stronger medicines are being relied on to help make the transplants work.

Sitting back and enjoying life for Franklin has not been an option, he said.

He participates in the olympic-style athletic event held every other year called the Transplant Games. They are held in different cities in the U.S. each year.

Franklin, who has been competing in swimming and bowling since 1980, has won seven medals, including one gold.

A spokesman for many transplant organizations, Franklin was asked what drives him to stay so active.

“How do you thank that person who gave you life? You do it by thanking everyone,” said Franklin.

“It goes back to the old saying, ‘To whom much is given, much is required,’” he said.

For more information on transplants and donors, visit or call 1-800-641-HERO.

Greg Larry can be contacted at

Text Only
Latest news
  • Sheriff warns of scams targeting taxpayers

    CUMBERLAND — Allegany County Sheriff Craig Robertson cautioned residents Thursday to be aware of continuing telephone scams that are targeting taxpayers.

    April 17, 2014

  • DSC_0446.JPG Oakland returns to normal after tanker accident

    OAKLAND — Nearly 12 hours after a propane tanker overturned in the heart of its business district, the town of Oakland returned to normal early Wednesday night.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • New River Gorge bald eagle dies from injuries

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A female bald eagle that nested in the New River Gorge has died from injuries suffered last month when she was hit by a train and later by a vehicle.

    April 17, 2014

  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

    April 17, 2014

  • Park Service opens Canal Classrooms Park Service opens Canal Classrooms

    CUMBERLAND – The National Park Service held a ribbon-cutting event Wednesday for a new program called Canal Classrooms, which will offer students pre-K through fifth grade accredited classwork on the Canal Place grounds.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • City, county officials to talk baseball at work session

    CUMBERLAND — During today’s Allegany County Commission work session, a proposal to study the possibility of bringing a professional-level baseball team to the area will be vetted again, this time with participants from the city of Cumberland.

    April 17, 2014

  • EversolCody004.jpg Cody Eversole named Kelley Award winner

    KEYSER, W.Va. — Keyser High School senior Cody Eversole was named this year’s J. Edward Kelley Award winner during a ceremony Wednesday morning at Potomac State College.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0464.JPG Cranes set up to remove overturned fuel tanker in Oakland

    OAKLAND — Two large cranes were being set up early Wednesday afternoon in downtown Oakland to remove a fuel tanker that overturned several hours earlier and forced evacuation of the business district.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Students support renovation of Southern Middle School

    OAKLAND — Students from both Southern and Northern middle schools presented a list of reasons why Southern Middle needs to be renovated during the Garrett County Commission meeting Tuesday.

    April 16, 2014

  • Oakland business district evacuated after tanker overturns

    OAKLAND — The town of Oakland business district was evacuated Wednesday when a tanker carrying 10,000 gallons of liquid propane overturned at Oak and Third streets at about 9:35 a.m., according to Garrett County officials.

    April 16, 2014

Must Read
House Ads
NDN Video
NDN Video