By Denise Koch

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Right now, there are well over 100,000 people in the U.S. waiting for a kidney transplant. Many will die waiting.

The University of Maryland Transplant Center, one of the busiest in the country, has modified the surgery to make it easier than ever to donate.

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“Unfortunately, it’s like a death sentence, you know?” says Steve Joss. “And I didn’t even do anything wrong.”

Joss has stage 5 chronic kidney disease. He needs a transplant, but his wife’s history with cancer eliminates her as a donor. At 68 years old, he is on the wait list. But the list is currently seven years long.

Telling somebody they’re going to die if they don’t have a kidney is difficult, Joss says.

Unfortunately, Dr. Rolf Barth has to do just that every day.

“And not everyone just gets to wait from the next year to the next year,” Dr. Barth says. “Many of these people don’t survive and pass away waiting for an organ.”

And the need is critical.

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One in seven Americans has chronic kidney disease, one in three is at risk and Joss is 3,000 people in Maryland waiting for a transplant.

But the University of Maryland has made it even easier to donate. The donation surgery has been modified so it can be done entirely through the naval.

“And then at the end we just expand that incision just big enough to squeeze out the kidney and then close up the incision with some invisible stitches,” according to Dr. Barth.

Donors are home in one or two days, and back to work within a couple of weeks with the knowledge that you saved someone’s life.

If you know someone who needs a kidney and you’re not a match, today they do swaps with other hospitals in other states.

It’s one of the safest transplant surgeries.

More more information, visit UMM.EDU/TRANSPLANT.

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