On Monday, August 22, 2016, a surgical team at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore removed my left kidney. It was then drained of blood, flushed with a preservative solution, placed on ice, and flown to Cincinnati.
Surgeons in Cincinnati then transplanted the kidney into a recipient I’d never met and whose name I didn’t know; we didn’t correspond until this past month. The only thing I knew about him at the time was that he needed my kidney more than I did. It would let him avoid the physically draining experience of dialysis and possibly live an extra nine to 10 years, maybe more.
It’s not just him, though. We were part of a chain of donations that led to four people getting kidneys, all told. My recipient (let’s call him Craig) had a relative who was willing to donate a kidney to him. Unfortunately, the two didn’t match. So Craig and his relative agreed to a trade: If Craig got a kidney from somebody, his relative would still go forward and donate to someone else who needed a kidney.
So the very same day that I donated, Craig’s relative had their kidney taken out as well and flown to the West Coast. This second recipient also had a friend or relative agreeing to an exchange; so did the third recipient, who got the second recipient’s friend’s kidney. Our chain will let people enjoy 36 to 40 years of life they would’ve otherwise been denied.
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