According to the National Kidney Foundation, 13 people die each day waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant.
We spoke with some kidney donor recipients who were all part of one kidney donor chain.
Over one hundred thousand people are currently waiting on a kidney transplant. One of the most effective ways to find a living donor is to be a part of a kidney donor chain. According to the UCLA Health, the chain starts with one person who wants to donate their kidney out of the goodness of their own heart. That kidney goes to a recipient who already had a donor willing to give a kidney but ended up not being a match. That incompatible donor then gives their kidney to another patient and therefore ends up “paying it forward” and creating a chain. The chain can go on forever as long as there are donors.
Kelly McCabe was suffering from kidney disease since 2013 until her best friend Tara Callahan-Henry of Blair county, offered to donate her kidney but unfortunately, they were not a match. But, this created an opportunity to start a kidney chain. Tara was then matched with Shannon Towbridge, someone unknown to her, which in turn allowed Kelly to also receive the kidney she needed.
“No telling how long I would have been on the waiting list, I was on dialysis for a year. Being on dialysis it is not fun. I did the peritoneal dialysis so that’s just hooking up every night to a machine so it can filter out everything. It’s not a good quality of life.”
The kidney transplants were performed on March 16th last year. Shannon Towbridge, the recipient of Tara’s kidney was shocked when he was diagnosed with kidney disease.
“I went from one month of being completely healthy to the second month where I lost eighty percent of my kidneys and they don’t know why, It was just a huge blessing when Tara stepped up first to help her friend.”
The pairings are done using a special computer program that uses algorithms to maximize the efficiency of the chains. According to the National Kidney Foundation, every 14 minutes someone is added to the kidney transplant list. Those willing to participate in a donation chain end up giving life-saving help to more than just one person.
“It’s really hard to find people with success stories out there, To find out that hey this is not my death sentence. I’m not dying in 5 years or 3 years or 2 years.”