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3 May 2022
Mike Griffiths has struggled with his health for his entire life. At the age of 24, he received his first kidney transplant. The surgery was a big step toward better health, but it was not without challenges
“I went into organ rejection three times, but ultimately, I was able to keep the kidney,” says Mike.
Though the donor kidney changed his life, eventually it began to deteriorate, and Mike was put on dialysis. In November 2021, he received a second donor kidney. The surgery was successful but, unfortunately, his health struggles were not over: Mike developed an infection.
Post-transplant infections are always cause for concern, but Mike’s was particularly worrying—the bacteria infecting his kidney were resistant to antibiotics.
“I knew something was wrong—it wasn’t healing properly. I went to see my doctors to check,” says Mike. “I had no idea just how serious it would turn out to be.”
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing health crisis in which bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics. The consequences could be devastating: without reliable antibiotics, even the simplest of surgeries could pose risk of major infections. Similarly, hallmarks of modern medicine such as chemotherapy, organ transplantation and joint replacements—all of which require antibiotics—could come with much more risk.
Mike’s infection not only threatened his donor kidney, but his life. The first round of antibiotics he received were not effective, and it took several tries to find a drug that worked.
“I have complete faith in my medical team,” says Mike. “I know everyone here at MUHC, and I am confident that they are taking good care of me.”
Mike’s story is not unique. Millions of people around the world die from AMR infections each year, and the threat is growing. To tackle this problem, McGill University and the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) are creating the McGill Antimicrobial Resistance Centre. Led by clinician-scientist Dr. Dao Nguyen, it will bring together experts from a wide range of fields to find new solutions to AMR.
“For decades, we have relied on antibiotics being effective, but with the rise of AMR, they may fail us more and more. It is critical for the future of medicine—and the future of human health—that we find new ways to diagnose, prevent and treat infection,” says Dr. Dao Nguyen, Director of the McGill AMR Centre.
For patients like Mike, the discoveries of the AMR Centre will be life changing. Though the treatment was effective, healing from such a major infection is a slow process—he was hospitalized at the MUHC for six months.
“The work doctors are doing to help people with resistant infections is so important. If they had not been able to find a drug to treat my infection, I could have died,” says Mike.
It is estimated that by 2050, AMR will jeopardize 10 million lives worldwide. To combat this bleak future, the MUHC Foundation is raising millions of dollars to fund AMR research through its $60 million Dream Big. Solve Humanity’s Deadliest Puzzles campaign. To learn more and to donate, visit https://muhcfoundation.com/dream-big/infection-immunity/