Health Team

Doctors: Kidney swapping could save more lives

Posted April 26, 2010

Recently, New York-Presbyterian, the university hospital of Columbia and Cornell, celebrated more than 3,000 kidney transplants since their first in 1969.

When Dave Dorlen's kidneys failed five years ago, his wife Rosiland offered to donate.

“However, my husband was not an appropriate recipient because of the difficulties with the match,” Rosiland Dorlen said.

A similar situation happened for Tom Packard. His fiancee, Ann Heavner, wasn't a matching donor.

Doctors: Kidney swapping could save more lives Doctors: Kidney swapping could save more lives

“All of us knew we didn’t have too much longer and then a miracle occurred,” Heavner said.

Doctors discovered there were matches between the two couples. Rosiland Dorlen donated her kidney to save Packard and Heavner donated her kidney to Dave Dorlen.

The process is known as kidney swapping.

Medical experts say there are more than 80,000 Americans waiting for a kidney. But each year there are only 17,000 transplants.

Doctors say they hope kidney swaps will make more organs available and save more lives.

Dr. Lloyd Ratner, a transplant surgeon at New York-Presbyterian, said kidney swapping could potentially increase the number of live donors by one-third.

Monday was the five-year anniversary of the kidney swap between the two couples at New York-Presbyterian.

“It was like a gift of life. It really was,” Packard said.

The hospital’s transplant teams said America needs more organ donors of all types to help give others a second chance at life.


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  • NCworkingwoman Apr 27, 2010

    Has this been done beyond 1 for 1, with a more complicated swap among multiple donor/recipient pairings? - TestForFun

    Yes. There was a big one last year 13 people got kidneys.

  • TestForFun Apr 27, 2010

    I hope this story will lead more people to investigate this option. I understand why someone with no stake may not risk the surgery and loss of a kidney for a stranger, but when someone is willing to help their loved one and isn't a match, what a great solution to swap for a match! Has this been done beyond 1 for 1, with a more complicated swap among multiple donor/recipient pairings?

  • Tenderhardt Apr 27, 2010

    My mom had kidney disease and lost a kidney. She refused to allow any of her children to donate since she feared we would one day suffer the same fate. So far, none of us has developed any form of the disease. If I knew I was a match for someone needing a kidney, I would gladly give up one of my own. If for no other reason, in memory of my mother.

  • sweetrose Apr 27, 2010

    My husband has stage 3 Kidney disease, he has already lost function in 1 kidney and he has been through 6 months of surgeries and procedures to save the other. WE are still processing the diagnosis of kidney disease ... we know that at some point he will be faced with dialysis or transplant to survive.

    Anyone that gives the gift of life through organ donation is a true hero/shero in my opinion.

  • Killian Apr 27, 2010

    My friend's husband will be in need of a kidney in a few years. I've already told her that I will do a swap if necessary, when the time comes. I hope more people are willing to explore this option!