Thursday, October 28, 2010

Physician, heal thyself: kidney docs as kidney donors

Tufts Medical Center's physician newsletter has a feature on Kidney Transplantation (starting on p4) that highlights the story of Dr. Andrew Levy, the chief of Nephrology there, who also donated a kidney to his wife as part of a kidney exchange organized by the New England Program for Kidney Exchange (NEPKE).

"Last year, Levey’s wife — oncologist Roberta Falke, MD — needed a kidney transplant due to worsening
polycystic kidney disease. Levey was a willing but incompatible donor. So he and Falke did what Levey had been advising some of his own patients to do — they signed on with the New England Program for Kidney Exchange in Newton. The exchange program helps to increase the pool of potential donors by orchestrating matches among altruistic strangers.

"In late October, Falke was notified of a match. But it didn’t stop there. Levey was a match for a man named Peter Scheibe. Scheibe’s wife Susan wasn’t a match for her husband, but she was a match for a man named Hai Nguyen. And Nguyen’s wife Vy wasn’t a match for him, but she was a match for Falke. And on December 15, in an exquisitely choreographed series of operations at Tufts Medical Center and the Lahey Clinic Medical Center, the three healthy donor kidneys were harvested and transplanted into the three recipients. Today, all six participants in this “circle of miracles” are doing fine."

The piece mentions in passing another remarkable story:
"In the 1980s, Levey and Susan Hou, MD, who completed her nephrology fellowship here, wrote about how kidney donation from living unrelated donors could help expand the donor pool. Today, approximately
20 percent of kidney transplants at Tufts MC are from such donors (with 30 percent from living related donors and the remaining 50 percent from deceased donors). Hou, incidentally, went on to become Medical Director of the Renal Transplant Program at Loyola University Medical Center in suburban Chicago and made headlines when she donated a kidney to one of her patients in 2003."

The article ends with a quote from Dr. Levy:
"“All of us doctors want to help our patients,” he continues. “But it’s rare to get the chance to do anything so direct and meaningful to restore someone’s health. To give a personal gift that you can give only once to another person, it’s a unique confluence of both professional and personal ideals.”

Here's my earlier post on that exchange, and a story about it in the Globe.
And here is a story about Dr. Hou's donation of a kidney to her patient (nothing ever seems simple in medicine): Doctor's unique donation prompts ethical concerns
Here's a link to another story: Chicago Doctor Donates Kidney to Patient
""I can't bring about world peace, I can't eliminate world hunger, but I can get one person off dialysis," said Hou, 56, medical director of the renal transplant program at Loyola University Medical Center in suburban Chicago."

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