Kidney Transplant a Success for Shelby


Six years after successfully receiving a heart transplant, auto racing legend Carroll Shelby got a new kidney Tuesday--from his 50-year-old son, Michael.

The operation, at an unspecified Los Angeles hospital, was a success, according to Don Rager, chief operating officer for Shelby American, Inc.

“The doctors are expecting a speedy recovery for both,” Rager said. No other information was released because, Rager said, the family desired privacy.

Shelby, 73, had been waiting for a kidney donor for several months, both in Los Angeles and on his ranch in his native Texas. During the wait he received regular dialysis treatment.

There were several potential donors but the transplant procedure was canceled several times for various reasons before doctors agreed that a healthy kidney from his son would be acceptable.


The transplant was the latest in a line of medical problems for the man who followed a championship sports car driving career with designing and building the famous Shelby Cobra. In 1973 he had open-heart surgery, in 1978 bypass surgery and in 1990 underwent a heart transplant at Cedars-Sinai Medical center.

“I got a heart transplant from a gambler who died at a crap table in Las Vegas,” Shelby said at the time. “He was only 34, so that’s how I feel now, like a 34-year-old.”

Before retiring as a driver in 1960, Shelby often popped nitroglycerin pills under his tongue during races to ward off angina attacks.

Until he was bedridden because of kidney failure last year, Shelby had been actively preparing to move all of his Shelby American operations to the 40-acre Carroll Shelby Development Center as part of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway now under construction. The center will also house Shelby’s racing tire facility.

Shelby also is building fiberglass versions of the 1965 Cobra coupe that beat Ferrari for the world manufacturing championship.

After his heart transplant, he established the Shelby Heart Fund to provide treatment for needy children stricken by heart disease.