Kidney transplant chain links strangers across the US

It all started with one man in Georgia— now, 12 people have donated their kidneys to transplant patients nationwide, MyFoxAtlanta reported.

Six weeks ago, Steve Baumgartner of Roswell, Ga., donated a kidney to a stranger, a man in Ohio. The recipient’s wife gave her kidney to a stranger in Minnesota. That person gave a kidney to a patient in Washington State, whose donor gave a kidney that was flown to Georgia. Now it’s going to Susan Edwards, 58, who has been waiting for a donor for four years.

According to Piedmont Hospital surgeon Dr. Miguel Tan, the average wait for a deceased donor kidney is five years.

“One thing we ask people to do is come up with a living donor. But, of those who do, only 30 to 40 percent are compatible,” Tan told MyFoxAtlanta. “We know if you look at the long-term, [a] living donor kidney lasts twice as long as a deceased donor kidney.”

Edwards’s brother-in-law was medically able to donate a kidney but was not a match for her. Now, as part of a paired kidney transplant chain, Edwards found the match she needed.

“It’s been anxious. I’m just over-the-moon excited now; just ready to get it over with,” Edwards told the news channel while she was in the pre-op area.

Three days later, on Friday, her brother-in-law, Phillip McCorkle, went to Piedmont Hospital to donate on her behalf. McCorkle’s kidney went to Richard Cunningham, 35, a newlywed in stage 5 kidney failure. Laterral England, 28, heard about Cunningham from his sister, who is in her home Bible study, and decided to donate her kidney, which is going to Beth Carnley, 28, in Opp, Alabama.

Now 12 people strong, the transplant chain continues. Carnley’s daughter Stephanie will soon donate her kidney to the next person in line.

Baumgartner is back to living his life and playing tennis, having helped six kidney failure patients get a second chance.

The transplant chain was coordinated by the Alliance for Paired Donation.

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