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Format: 04/17/2014
Format: 04/17/2014


WTAE-TV: Pittsburgh Hospital Part Of Largest U.S. Kidney Exchange

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

PITTSBURGH -- In a medical event that is the first of its kind involving Pittsburgh patients, doctors at Allegheny General Hospital participated in the nation's largest paired kidney exchange.

Paired kidney exchanges are designed for transplant patients who have a willing, but incompatible, living donor.

The exchange matches such donor-recipients with other incompatible pairs to swap suitable kidneys.

Starting in early February, the first of 24 surgeries in the swap began.

"We were going into the hospital, and I couldn't believe it was finally happening," said Denise Fowkes, who spent 12 years on dialysis.

Fowkes' friend, Corey Joiner, offered to donate his kidney to her, but they weren't a match. So he signed up with AGH's program to match him with someone else in the same situation.

Joiner was matched with Kimberly Wagner and became part of what was eventually a 24-person chain from one coast to the other -- 12 people who needed kidneys and 12 donors who didn't match the person they originally wanted to give to.

"I have my life back because of someone being so generous and kind. It just means a lot. It really does," Wagner said.

"I feel my one donation helped a lot of other people -- 11 other people -- so my one donation was more than just my one donation, so it makes me feel like I really accomplished something," Joiner said.

Five of the kidneys had to be flown to different locations on commercial flights.

"It's in a preservation solution that's cold. That's one bag," Dr Ngoc Thai said. "And then there's ice around that, and we wrapped it in multiple bags. Then it's in a styrofoam box, which has lots of ice, and it's packaged very well."

To read more, visit the WTAE website.

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