Five-Year-Old Receives Kidney as Link in Chain of Kindness


Evan, bottom middle, surrounded by his father, donor and his donor's family

Evan Hubbard was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease at the age of two. His early childhood was mostly spent in a hospital bed and hooked up to a dialysis machine. But four years later, on Valentine’s Day 2008, Evan was given the gift of life by a complete stranger – Mohammad Islam. The transplant was part of a new medical technique called a “kidney donor chain.”

Rates of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the United States have increased by more than 20% over the last decade, causing  loss of life and sky-rocketing health care costs, according to the 2008 annual report released by the U.S. Renal Data System (USRDS). Its increasing impact, now estimated to affect more than 30 million adult Americans, led the USDRS for the first time to dedicate a separate volume to CKD in its 20th annual report. 

According to the National Kidney Foundation, CKD is a progressive disease, in which early stages are evidenced by the presence of protein in the urine.  In late stage CKD, the kidney’s ability to filter out the body’s waste products is severely compromised.

Sometimes kidney patients have friends or family members willing to donate a kidney to them, however they are not a match and cannot do so. A kidney donor chain makes it possible for that potential donor to indirectly save their loved one’s life by donating to a stranger. The donor’s loved one then receives a kidney from another stranger.

Evan’s father, Paul, was not a match for his son, but Mohammad was. He donated his kidney to Evan because his wife had received a kidney from another complete stranger. Paul agreed to continue the chain by donating to the next kidney patient in need. Three months after Evan’s kidney transplant, Paul donated his kidney to Leroy Baker. Leroy suffered chronic kidney disease due to uncontrolled high blood pressure.

“When the option of giving a kidney to a stranger in order for my son to receive a kidney from another stranger was brought to my attention, I had no doubts. All I had to do was think about my son. That removed all my fears,” said Paul. “There is nothing I can do to thank Mohammad enough. He gave from his heart, just like I did.”

All of the kidney transplants in the chain were performed at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Evan’s kidney donor chain was begun by a healthy woman in California who donated to a stranger. That recipient’s husband donated to Mohammad’s wife. The chain started from there and continues…

For more information on living donation click here.