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The Alliance for Paired Donation (APD) announced that July 26, 2008 marks the first anniversary of the second recipient’s transplant in the world’s first NEAD (Never-Ending Altruistic Donor) chain. Last July, Matt Jones of Petoskey, Michigan traveled to Phoenix to donate a kidney to Barb Bunnell, a 53-year-old grandmother. Her husband, Ron, wanted to donate a kidney to Barb, but they were incompatible. So instead, on July 26, 2007, Ron flew to Toledo, Ohio, where he donated a kidney to Angie Heckman, thus “paying it forward.” Angie had been receiving kidney dialysis treatments three times a week for 11 years – all of her adult life. The chain continued with Angie’s mom donating a kidney two months later, and there have now been ten people transplanted in five different states as a result of Matt’s initial gift.
All of the recipients in the chain are doing well, and in fact, Ms. Heckman, recently traveled to Pittsburg for the Transplant Games, where she competed and won a bronze medal in racquetball in the women’s 30-39 year-old group. Now that she’s back from the Games, Angie has enrolled in Owens Community College, where she will be pursuing a new career as an ultrasound technician.
Matt and his new wife, Meghan, who celebrated their honeymoon at the Games, were on hand to participate in the 5k run. Matt also had the opportunity to present Angie with her bronze medal.
Building on the traditional method of paired exchanges, whereby kidney patients who have a willing but incompatible donor are matched with others in a similar situation, the Alliance uses altruistic (or "good Samaritan") donors to begin a chain of transplants that can be performed in a step-wise fashion, rather than having to be performed simultaneously. Not only is this logistically easier, but it allows the recipient's loved ones (including their incompatible donor) to be present for the transplant and recovery, before going on to give a kidney to someone else.
A reunion is planned for October this year, to celebrate both the donors and recipients of this first Never-Ending chain, as well as to honor all of those who have been part of the Alliance for Paired Donation program. In its first year of operation, the APD facilitated 19 transplants.
The Alliance for Paired Donation is headquartered in Toledo, Ohio. A 501 (c) 3 organization, the mission of the APD is to save lives by significantly shortening the waiting time for kidney patients through kidney paired donation. Learn more about the program by visiting www.paireddonation.org, or by calling 419-866-5505
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