Teacher 'great' after kidney transplant

Mystic - Groton teacher Brad Vernet underwent a successful kidney transplant on Thursday and is expected to be discharged from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston on Tuesday, according to his wife Katy.

"He's doing so great. It's unbelievable," she said Sunday afternoon, adding his kidney function is now normal. "He felt better an hour after the surgery."

Katy Vernet said her husband would not be able to return to his science classroom at West Side Middle school until the beginning of June so he plans to take the rest of the school year off and return for the start of the new school year in August.

The man who donated the kidney to Brad, college friend Mike Sheehan of California, was released from the hospital today, she said.

She said that another of Brad's friends who is a doctor from Maine and Mike's wife spent the days after the surgery together, calling them an amazing support group as were the hospital's medical staff.

"It has been a very emotional few days for us but in the most positive way possible," she said.

She said her husband, who no longer has to be on the restricted diet that he's had to adhere to the past few years, celebrated by eating bananas, salad and pizza on Saturday.

Vernet's surgery was almost derailed a few weeks ago when the hospital suddenly told him his insurance company, Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, would not totally cover the cost of the surgery because their hospital was not in insurance network. The Vernets said they had been told last summer the procedure would be fully covered but were now looking at a bill of up to $100,000.

Even though his kidney function had diminished to the point where he would soon have to go on dialysis, Vernet said he was considering delaying the surgery so it could be done at a hospital that was in his insurance network. In stepped U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who asked Anthem to review Vernet's case. The company then said Vernet's policy through the teachers' union had some unique benefit language that gave him the full coverage he needed.



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