The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Malloy recovers after kidney operation

John Tierney | Wednesday, August 27, 2008

67-year old University president emeritus Father Edward A. “Monk” Malloy, C.S.C, returned to work last week after donating a kidney to an anonymous 61-year-old woman on August 11.

The procedure was part of a four-patient operation during which the woman’s son donated his kidney to Johnny Rorapaugh, Malloy’s nephew.

Malloy said donating his kidney was a sort of natural progression in his life.

“My father only had one kidney from the time he was born to age 77,” he said. “It never had any bad effects. It was just a fact about our family.”

Malloy had discussed organ donations in an academic setting in the 1970s and early 1980s while he taught biomedical ethics as a professor of theology at the University.

“I discussed all the issues of transplant theoretically, but never imagined it as a reality,” he said.

There are about 80,000 people in the United States waiting for kidney transplants and for Rorapaugh to move to the top of the list he needed a family member or friend with the same blood type to volunteer to donate their own kidney. Other family members were unable to offer their organs to him because they didn’t match his blood type or there were other health reasons preventing them, so Malloy decided to donate his.

“At first, I thought I was too old, but they told me I wasn’t,” Malloy said.

Until two weeks before the scheduled August 11 date for the procedure, Malloy expected his kidney to go to Rorapaugh. However, his doctors notified him of the anonymous mother-son pair, who were incompatible for each other. Malloy, however, was a compatible donor for the mother, while the son was a compatible donor for Rorapaugh.

The doctors at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, where the procedure occurred, proposed a switch, so that Malloy would donate to the mother and the son would donate to Rorapaugh. Malloy said he and his nephew agreed that “it was the right thing to do.”

The procedure marked the first time ever that a compatible pair (Malloy and Rorapaugh) decided to trade kidneys with an incompatible pair (the mother and son).

While the trade in donors benefited the mother, who would not have been able to receive a kidney without it, the 40-year old Rorapaugh also benefited because he now has the kidney of the son, who is in his 30s, as opposed to Malloy’s 67-year old kidney.

Malloy said he was not scared of the procedure because of his faith.

“I never lost any sleep in the days before,” he said. “I had great confidence in the surgeons and my capacity to sustain the surgery. Ultimately, I placed my trust in God.”

He also said he was inspired by several people he knows who had donated organs in the past.

“They all talk about what a meaningful thing it was to them and say that they would do it again,” he said.

Prior to donating his kidney, Malloy spent the summer traveling, initially to Uganda and Kenya to visit the Holy Cross activities there. He then went to Australia, to help open the new medical school at the Notre Dame Australia complex. He was in Sydney during World Youth Day and was able to see Pope Benedict XVI.

His travels concluded with an eight-day tour of Ireland with Notre Dame alumni, during which his primary responsibility was to celebrate daily Mass.

Malloy continues to teach a freshman literature university seminar and is working on his memoirs. He has a book contract for the first volume of his memoirs and has completed half of the second volume. He is also working on a book on ethics and spirituality.