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Author Topic: JAIME CAMPBELL: Five-way kidney swap brings hope to people awaiting organs  (Read 3993 times)

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Offline Karol

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Sunday, Apr 24 2011 11:00 PM
JAIME CAMPBELL: Five-way kidney swap brings hope to people awaiting organs

April is Donate Life month and is being celebrated and recognized around the United States. On April 1, a historic five-way kidney transplant swap took place in San Francisco that offered hope to unmatched donors everywhere. It not only saved five lives, it touched their families, friends and communities forever -- including mine. The two people who served as the catalyst for this transplant story, April and Alan Langstraat, are my cousins. April, 65, had been on the kidney transplant waiting list for five years. Her husband, Alan, was a willing donor but incompatible blood-type match. Instead, Alan's kidney was transplanted into another patient, while April received a kidney from a stranger who had agreed to the swap. The process was repeated five times, with a live kidney going to someone who had a friend or relative willing to donate an organ that was not compatible for them but was a match for one of the others. This was the third five-way kidney swap ever done in the United States.

I was adopted at birth into a family with a history of Polycystic Kidney Disease, or PKD. My mother's only sibling, my uncle, had PKD. I use that in past tense because he no longer actively has it. Fourteen years ago, I was able to donate one of my kidneys to him as I had the only compatible blood type in the family from the pool of eligible donors. Today he is healthier from year to year -- not sicker. Donation works. We proved it. I'm here, he's here. Everybody wins. So what's next?

There are more than 110,000 people in the United States waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. Three organs can be transplanted from live donors: kidney, partial liver and partial lung (and in some cases a partial pancreas, but it is rare). As a living donor, I have a different reason for supporting Donate Life other than just educating people about why making and recording a personal decision about donation is important. To those who know someone on the waiting list, I say, "Why not you?"

Coming from a family with a genetic disease that requires a kidney transplant for survival, I know what it's like to feel helpless and watch people you love deteriorate while they wait for a pager to go off in the middle of the night. In our family, those suffering from PKD are roughly 50 percent.

In the last few years, three of us have found a way to keep three of our loved ones here, as we now have three living donors in the family. And those three transplants made room for three other people on the waiting list who maybe didn't have a family of eligible donors to choose from. That seems like a double gift -- giving life for someone you love, and making room on the waiting list for someone else's loved one.

And so this year, Donate Life month is especially meaningful as two of our family members make history and open doors for countless others to follow. And so I ask: Have you made your decision? Please do yourself and your loved ones a favor, and visit www.donatelifecalifornia.org, educate yourself and record the options you choose about donation.

Jaime Campbell of Bakersfield donated a kidney to her uncle in 1997; he is still alive and healthier than ever. Campbell, married with two young sons, volunteers for Donate Life as a speaker and educator throughout the year.

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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