(Washington, DC, November 24, 2010) – Thirty-two people, 16 of them with serious kidney disease, and 16 who donated either on behalf of a family member or just because they felt compelled to help their fellow man, have become part of the world's largest paired kidney exchange. This exchange breaks a former world record set by Georgetown and Washington Hospital Center in June 2010.
The 32 surgeries took place on eight days between November 5 and 17 at three DC hospitals, Georgetown, Washington Hospital Center and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Participants range in age from 22 to 69 and include soldiers, husbands, wives, aunts, mothers, sons, cousins and four strangers who gave up a kidney just because they wanted to help a person in need. This 16-way paired exchange is a feat accomplished only by two US transplant centers and took place within the same time period. The second occurred at a hospital in Texas.
Keith Melancon, MD, director of the Georgetown Transplant Institute's Paired Kidney Exchange Program and the chief coordinator of this latest undertaking believes that paired exchanges help improve the odds of getting a kidney transplant, especially among minority patients and for those with medical conditions that make them almost impossible to match.
"A few of the recipients in this exchange were never going to survive waiting for a kidney on the list the traditional way," said Dr. Melancon. "They had developed so many antibodies, either from a prior transplant or from kidney dialysis, that finding them a suitable donor was going to be almost impossible. By putting them in an exchange like this, we increase their odds of success. In Georgetown's case, we have seen our rate of transplant, meaning the number of people we have removed from our list, increase two-fold since we started doing these in 2009. This is particularly important because it's now estimated that people with antibody issues now make up about 30-percent of the national transplant list."
Extended NBC interviews not seen on television (NBC "Nightly News" with Brian Williams):
- – Transplant MD: Living Donors are 'Awe-Inspiring'
- – Kidney Donor (Patricia Harris): Give to the World the Best you Have
- – Veteran and Donor (Patrick Duncan): I Don't See Myself as a Hero
Watch the story that aired on Nightly News:
Watch the coverage from the Today Show:
For more information on The Kidney Center and Pancreas Transplant Program, please click here.
Right now the United Network for Organ Sharing lists more than 87,000 people in the United States registered to receive a new kidney. Each year only 16,000 people are actually transplanted. Washington, DC has the highest rate of end-stage renal disease per capita of any state in the country, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
Jimmy Light, MD, director, Quality Assurance and Outreach for Kidney Transplantation for the Georgetown Transplant Institute and the former director of Transplantation Services at Washington Hospital Center said, "The large donor exchanges engineered by cooperation between Georgetown, Washington Hospital Center and the other transplant programs in the Washington, D.C. area, have provided successful transplants for over 50 people who otherwise would have been waiting indefinitely on the deceased donor waiting list."
Army Lt. Col. Edward Falta, MD, chief of the Walter Reed Organ Transplant Service, said, "I think this represents a close collaboration with the community, integrating all of the medical centers, cooperating together for the benefit of our recipients." Dr. Falta was the transplant surgeon at Walter Reed during the exchange and Army Col. George B. Stackhouse, MD was the donor surgeon.
Kidney donors and recipients involved in this exchange hailed from as far away as Louisiana, Florida and Missouri as well as close to home in Washington, DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia.
Army Specialist Patrick Duncan, 25, now stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia was one of the non-directed donors in the exchange. "After nearly eight years in the Army that included two tours of infantry duty in Iraq and one tour in the mortuary service in Afghanistan I was ready to give back. I've been surrounded by so much death that being able to give someone life just means the world to me," Patrick said.
Another non-directed donor, 50-year-old mother-of-three Sheryl Stratton of Falls Church, Virginia donated her kidney as a special way to celebrate her 50th birthday. "This was a milestone birthday and a year to take stock in what I'd done in my life. It's my year of doing things I want to do, of accomplishing goals. Kidney donation had always interested me. I know it's a rather unusual way to celebrate turning 50, but I look at this as a happy birthday present to myself and to someone else."
For 62-year-old kidney recipient Teressa Bailey of Bowie, Maryland it was high blood pressure that has been destroying her kidneys for more than 10 years. "I think it's a favor to me from God that they found a donor for me," she said before her surgery.
For 31-year-old Heather Hall of Denham Springs, Louisiana, this was a chance of a lifetime after physicians in her hometown told her she was going to be impossible to match. "I had built up so many antibodies due to two previous transplants and years of dialysis that I had run out of options," said Heather. "I got listed at Georgetown because of the ability to be in an exchange and to have plasmapheresis to address my issues with my antibodies. I am so grateful to my aunt who donated on my behalf and to all the donors who have been part of this."
Cecilia Paulding, 42, from Clinton, Maryland donated her kidney in memory or her late husband Scott Paulding who died of kidney disease on January 24, 2010. Cecilia had been scheduled to be his donor but in the end was unable to. Despite his death, Cecilia vowed to proceed with donating her kidney. "I'm honored to donate my kidney on behalf of my late husband. I feel very strongly about the opportunity for someone else to have another chance of life without dialysis."
"Ms. Paulding is a very unique donor," said Dr. Melancon. She is African American and a non-directed donor. There are very few African American non-directed donors out there. We need more people like her."
For the first time, the Georgetown Transplant Institute partnered with Walter Reed Army Medical Center where 46-year-old Joseph Pinkowski, a retired US Marine staff noncommissioned officer, had been suffering with kidney disease for 15 years. About two years ago, Joseph's kidney function dropped to 20 percent. His wife Yolanda wanted to be his donor, but she was not a match. Joseph received his kidney from 53-year-old Wendell Daniels whose surgery took place at Washington Hospital Center on November 17th.
Here's how the 16-way exchange unfolded from the beginning: On the first day November 5, kidneys crossed town when 40-year-old Michelle Bonner of Washington, DC donated her kidney on behalf of her partner 46-year-old Peter Clare. Michelle's kidney went to Adrienne Surratt, 54, of Columbia, Maryland. On that same morning 64-year-old non-directed donor Christine Hall, a law librarian for the city of Alexandria donated her kidney at Georgetown to 59-year-old Wyatt Miller of Kensington, Maryland, a patient at Washington Hospital Center. Christine lost forty pounds in order to be a donor. "I saw Dr. Melancon's work on television and I thought 'why don't more people do that?' Then it became, 'why don't I do that?' It's a real honor to be part of this."
On the second day, November 9th, Patricia Semple, 62, who got into the exchange on behalf of her husband Nathaniel Semple, donated her kidney to 22- year-old Jonathan Harris of Silver Spring, Maryland. Also on that day Tamika Wheeler, 38 from Landover, Maryland donated her kidney to Nathaniel Semple, 64. Tamika Wheeler had donated on behalf of her Aunt Daveida Jacobs who received a kidney that same day from non-directed donor Cecilia Paulding.
On November 10 Aleina Surratt, 31, of Elkridge, Maryland, donating on behalf of her mother Adrienne Surratt, gave her kidney to Valerie Daniels, 53, of Forestville, Maryland. Later that day, Medha Kochhar, 65, of Silver Spring, Maryland gave her kidney to 62-year-old Teressa Bailey. Medha had donated on behalf of her husband Kiran Kochhar, 69, who received a kidney on November 11 from Patricia Harris, 57, Jonathan Harris's mother. Laurie Abrams, 46, came all the way from Seminole, Florida to donate on behalf of a family friend Wyatt Miller but she was not a match, so her kidney went to 68-year-old Callisto Madavo of Potomac, Maryland.
On November 12 the day started with Patrick Duncan at Georgetown donating to Rhonda Carey at Washington Hospital Center and Kathleen Madavo at Washington Hospital Center donating to a Virginia man at Georgetown. On November 15th, a family member of Rhonda Carey's donated to Kimberly Bowie, 47, who had been on the Georgetown transplant list.
On November 16, Sheryl Stratton donated to Heather Hall at Georgetown.
On November 17 Heather's aunt, Susan Michelle Summers, 53, donated to Peter Clare at Georgetown while Wendell Daniels donated to 46-year-old Joseph Pinkowski at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Joseph's wife Yolanda Pinkowski, 48, donated her kidney on his behalf to 46-year-old Lobsang Chophel of Derwood, Maryland. His surgery took place at Georgetown.
This 16-way kidney exchange follows the 14-way in June, a 13-way swap in December 2009 and a 7-way exchange in July 2009. It is the fourth large-scale swap carried out between Georgetown and Washington Hospital Center.
The United Network for Organ Donation (www.unos.gov) is now in the process of launching a national transplant exchange program that will match donors and recipients in a similar way, broken down by region. Georgetown is a participating center once the program gets underway.
Dr. Melancon said, "I believe the UNOS program will further expand the options for our patients, but I don't think it will totally replace our current system. A national kidney exchange program under UNOS will make some of the unique abilities of our program, the desensitization of patients with high levels of antibodies and matching patients with mismatched blood types, even more valuable."
Dr. Light said, "The hugely successful transplants from the living donors allow everyone else still waiting a slightly better chance of actually receiving an organ. All the recipients should be saying 'THANKS-FOR-GIVING.'"
For more information on The Kidney Center and Pancreas Transplant Program, please click here.
Media Contact: Marianne Worley
Patient Contact: 202-342-2400