Upper Arlington News

Kidney, pancreas replaced

Transplants give city manager 'second chance'

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Upper Arlington City Manager Ted Staton was expected to return to work this week following recent surgery to replace a kidney and pancreas.

In a telephone interview from his home, on Monday, Nov. 11, Staton said he expected to begin taking up hours in his office at the Upper Arlington Municipal Services Center "late this week."

Staton has been out since Oct. 22, when he went on paid leave to undergo kidney and pancreas transplants.

The transplants were needed due to diabetes, a disease Staton has battled for most of his life, and which often causes the kidneys to shut down and prevents the pancreas from producing adequate levels of insulin.

Staton agreed to speak to ThisWeek Upper Arlington News following an open records request by the newspaper regarding his leave, and after proclaiming the importance of organ donation.

"(My surgeries) are absolutely the result of my lifelong struggle with diabetes," he said. "It frequently takes its toll on kidneys and, of course, diabetes itself is a disease of the pancreas.

"Those people who make that unselfish act to donate organs affect lives," he added. "It makes lives better, and has certainly made my life better. It's going to allow me to be an active parent to my two teenage boys.

"I couldn't be more grateful to the people that make that decision. I'm healthier than I have been in 30 years."

According to Lifeline of Ohio, more than 120,000 people in the United States currently are awaiting organ transplants.

Lifeline is an independent, nonprofit organization that is overseen by the federal government and links donated organs to people who need them in central and southeastern Ohio and Parkersburg, W.Va.

In Ohio, that number is more than 3,500 people, said Marilyn Pongonis, Lifeline of Ohio director of communications.

She said transplants like those Staton underwent are particularly important because they not only help prolong life, but essentially cure recipients of diabetes.

"The really significant thing for Mr. Staton is, as a lifelong diabetic, he no longer has diabetes, which is amazing," Pongonis said. "He'll no longer need daily dialysis or insulin.

"He's getting a second chance at a healthy future. That's the remarkable thing."

According to Staton and emails from city officials, the city manager, whose annual salary is $183,600, has kept abreast of city business via telephone calls and emails throughout his absence.

He's maintained discussions about the city's upcoming municipal operating budget hearings, reviewed results from a recent community survey and is preparing for a financial retreat with council members.

Longtime Upper Arlington Finance Director and Director of Administrative Services Cathe Armstrong has assumed Staton's day-to-day duties at the Municipal Services Center, including attending weekly Upper Arlington City Council meetings.

While Upper Arlington Community Affairs Director Emma Speight last week said Staton "will be phasing back to full-time in the month of November," Staton said he plans to do as much work as possible upon his return.

"I really don't know how to do this job other than on a full-time basis," he said. "I have clearance to work as much as I need to. I'm sort of anxious to get back at it."

Citing federal privacy laws that protect patient medical information, other city officials declined to comment on Staton's leave.

However, Staton's recent leave represented his second extended absence this year.

He also was out from Feb. 23 to April 1 following heart bypass surgery to address coronary artery disease, which also was brought on by diabetes.

"I've been on the list for transplants since the summer," he said. "Organs become available and you go.

"The council has known this was a possibility for me and could dramatically improve my life."

Since his transplants, Staton said, he hasn't had to test his insulin levels.

He also lauded Armstrong and other city staff members for filling in during his absence.

"Cathe Armstrong has done a great job acting on my behalf since the 22nd (of October)," he said.

Additional information about organ donation is available online at lifelineofohio.org.

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