Sunday, March 10, 2019

First-person account of a four-way kidney exchange in Houston, in the WSJ

Here's a moving first-person account by journalist Yogita Patel in the Wall Street Journal, about her decision to donate a kidney to her brother, through kidney exchange.

I Gave My Kidney to a Stranger to Save My Brother’s Life
By Yogita Patel, March 9, 2019

It's full of interesting introspection. Here's one bit:
"As I expressed my growing concerns, my brother quietly acknowledged to other family members some of his own doubts. “I wasn’t sure if it would always be something you’d hold over me,” he recently admitted. I wasn’t sure, either."

I was also interested in a technical part of the story about the lengths that Houston Methodist Hospital goes to try to perform all the kidney exchange transplants they do internally, i.e. at their own hospital.  In this case, a four-pair exchange was assembled over a period of months, that included at least one non-directed donor who participated in the exchanges, which all took place on the same day.
"Houston Methodist first aims to create a donor chain without other hospitals—its longest involved 12 people. If appropriate matches fail to come together, the hospital expands the search regionally, then ultimately to a national registry that helped create a 30-pair swap the hospital took part in eight years ago.
"As months went by, our small network continued to come together behind the scenes.
"Twice, Pesh got word from his coordinator that it was nearly go time in what turned out to be false alarms.As the wait dragged on, he made two trips to the ICU because of complications tied to dialysis. Each episode left him fearing that the prospect of a donation was fading.

"Finally in June, we got word that they had found matches for both of us. Our four-pair exchange took place on the same day, Aug. 7, with everyone having surgery at Houston Methodist."

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