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Format: 04/18/2014
Format: 04/18/2014

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WPXI-TV: 3 Pittsburgh Area Residents, AGH Participate In Largest Multi-State Kidney Exchange

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

PITTSBURGH -- As participants in the nation's largest, multi-state paired kidney exchange to date, 12 people with advanced renal disease, including two from the Pittsburgh area, have received the gift of life though a groundbreaking new approach to living donor transplantation.

Pittsburgh's Allegheny General Hospital was one of nine leading U.S. transplant centers to participate in the unprecedented national chain of paired kidney exchanges.

Paired kidney exchanges are designed for transplant candidates who have a willing but incompatible living donor. An organized exchange network matches such donor-recipients with other incompatible pairs for an exchange of suitable donors.

Of the 24 transplant and donor procedures performed in the course of the kidney exchange, three took place at AGH on Feb. 3.

The participants included kidney recipients Denise Fowkes, 41, of Export and Kimberly Wagner, 43, of Glenshaw and kidney donor Corey Joiner, also of Export. Joiner, who is the boyfriend of Fowkes, donated his kidney to Wagner. Fowkes received her kidney from donor Doni Epstein, 42, of New York.

Epstein's donor procedure took place at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, and her kidney was flown to AGH. Epstein's aunt received a kidney from a California-based donor in the chain.

A friend of Wagner who lives in Maryland donated her kidney to another recipient in the chain. Her friend's kidney retrieval procedure took place at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

"She was tested, and it didn't match. She still wanted to donate a kidney so that's why she went through shared kidney program. She was able to give it to someone in Maryland, and Corey was able to give to me one of his kidneys," said Wagner.

"I feel my one donation helped enable 11 other people get theirs. My one donation was more than one donation. Makes me feel I accomplished something," said Joiner.

All of the patients are doing exceptionally well, said Ngoc Thai, MD, PhD, director of AGH's Center for Abdominal Transplantation.

"We are thrilled and honored to have participated in a paired kidney exchange of this magnitude. The number of people on the waiting list for kidney transplantation unfortunately continues to far exceed the supply of cadaveric donor organs. Living donor transplantation is a terrific option and the paired exchange process expands this possibility to many more people in need," Thai said.

To read more, please visit the WPXI website.

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