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'Kidney chain' aids in finding donors
« on: March 05, 2011, 03:45:19 AM »
'Kidney chain' aids in finding donors
By Rachel Weaver
Saturday, March 5, 2011

Rita Dolezal's decision to donate a kidney to a complete stranger didn't require a long discussion with loved ones.

"We never really spoke about it," said Dolezal, 59, of Latrobe.

Two of the first people she told were her daughter, Diana, and her son-in-law, Troy Johnson, who had recently learned he needed a kidney transplant. Dolezal wasn't a match, but her decision led to him finding a donor.

Through UPMC, the two participated in the largest kidney donation chain involving patients from Western Pennsylvania. By the time it ended last week, 32 operations had occurred in 12 states.

UPMC worked with the National Kidney Registry, which facilitates chains allowing people who are incompatible to donate to a loved one to instead give their kidneys to strangers with whom they are.

Participating in the chain, which resulted in 16 recipients, was "fascinating," Dolezal said.

"Each time the number grew, I'd keep my fingers crossed and say, 'Let's all stay healthy,'" said Johnson, 36, of Latrobe.

Johnson, a father of two, was diagnosed as a child with Berger's disease, which hampers the kidneys' ability to filter waste, excess water and electrolytes from blood. His father donated a kidney to Johnson in 2005. Complications with scar tissue led to its failure.

On Feb. 10 at UPMC Montefiore, Johnson received a kidney transplant from a living donor in Florida. The same day, Dolezal donated her kidney to someone in Wisconsin.

Dr. Henkie Tan and Dr. Ron Shapiro of UPMC's transplantation program performed Johnson's surgery.

It marked the first time UPMC participated in a kidney chain.

"There is the potential that anything can happen," said Tan. "A donor could back out or someone could get sick. The National Kidney Registry did an excellent job of helping organize a large transplant program."

The chain started at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York in December and ended there with a 15-year-old recipient.

The creation of one national program for compatible donors and recipients would increase the likelihood of finding donors for hard-to-match recipients, Shapiro said.

"This could be occurring on a daily basis," Tan said.

The United Network for Organ Sharing recently began a national pilot program using a computer algorithm developed at Carnegie Mellon University to boost the number of kidney-paired donations.

Despite having been "terribly scared" for what was her first surgery, Dolezal recommends anyone considering kidney donation to "go for it."

"It's a little inconvenient, but I'll always be glad I did it," she said.

Rachel Weaver can be reached at rweaver@tribweb.com or 412-320-7948.

Read more: 'Kidney chain' aids in finding donors - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/print_725950.html#ixzz1FiFxguHJ
Daughter Jenna is 31 years old and was on dialysis.
7/17 She received a kidney from a living donor.
Please email us: kidney4jenna@gmail.com
Facebook for Jenna: https://www.facebook.com/WantedKidneyDonor
~ We are forever grateful to her 1st donor Patrice, who gave her 7 years of health and freedom


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