Johnathan's Story

Johnathan Nauta, a veteran from Fayetteville, NC, received the first abdominal wall transplant in North Carolina thanks to a generous donor, donor family, and an amazing team at Duke Health.
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Johnathan Nauta, a 37 year old veteran from Fayetteville, NC, experienced an appendix burst at the age of six. The appendix burst resulted in scar tissue that caused three life-threatening intestinal blockages over a span of years. Johnathan lived with tubes and waste bags.

Before going to Duke, doctors recommended hospice to Johnathan with the belief he wouldn't survive. He was admitted to Duke Hospital in 2014 where his team of surgeons and doctors had a different recommendation, a simultaneous abdominal wall and intestine transplant.

The Duke Health team strategized the transplant plan for four years for Johnathan, until a suitable donor was found. Marcus Scales, a 13-year-old from NC, donated the gift of life to Johnathan as well as six others.

Thanks to the team at Duke and the generous act of donation from Marcus Scales and his family, Johnathan is now able to eat unassisted, and for the first time since he was 11, he has a belly button.