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16 People Receive Kidneys Just Before Thanksgiving

WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Sixteen people received kidneys in the world’s largest paired kidney exchange ever accomplished.  Alex DeMetrick reports Georgetown University Hospital coordinated 32 operations, most involving people from Maryland.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, 16 people gave a rare gift to 16 others and nearly all met for the first time that day.

Patrick Duncan volunteered to donate a kidney.

“I was gonna donate to a friend but we were not a match so I was put in the cross-match system,” Duncan said.

That match went to Rhonda Carey and they met for the first time Wednesday at Georgetown Transplant Institute.  So did most of the 32 other donors and recipients of the largest mass kidney transplant in history. 

Many are from Maryland and Virginia.

“From what I hear, my kidney came out with a smile and it’s gonna keep smiling,” said Laurie Abrams.

It took three DC area hospitals and two weeks to accomplish.  Most of those donating were trying to help relatives or friends, but the matches didn’t work.  They did, however, match others on the waiting list.

“You keep trying and eventually you find that needle in the haystack,” said Dr. J. Keith Malancon.

Aleina Surratt from Elkridge was going to donate to her mother, but instead donated to Valerie Daniels.

“How perfect match we became–we were almost twins,” Surratt said.

Her mother received the kidney of Michelle Bonner.

“I probably would have been waiting for a kidney for five years.  Because of my blood type, it doesn’t come up that often,” said Adrienne Surratt.

Demand for this type of transplant is high; 87,000 are currently waiting for a new kidney and only 16,000 will receive one. 

The age range of the transplant participants is 22 to 69 years.  All are reported to be doing well.

More from Alex DeMetrick
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