Circle of donation

I’m reposting this from the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. It’s a great example of a paired exchange, when incompatible donor-recipient pairs are matched with other incompatible pairs in a way that allows more transplants to take place. For Canadian residents, here’s a link to the Living Donor Paired Exchange program.

Circle of donation: Grand Forks couple takes part in six-person kidney exchange

Although he wanted to, Paul Voth could not donate a kidney to his girlfriend, Tanya Knodle, whose health has been failing in recent years (as previously reported April 6 in the Herald). Their blood types are not compatible.

But they found another way that Knodle, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 10, could receive the kidney she needed due to the diabetes-caused kidney disease she had.

The Grand Forks couple agreed to be part of a “paired exchange” program. Voth would donate his kidney to a stranger, whose donor would give a kidney to Knodle.

In mid-May, she and Voth completed tests to clear them medically for the exchange, she said.

“On July 2, we got a call that the surgery had been set for July 28. I was very shocked.”

Instead of a paired exchange, though, Knodle, 38, and Voth, 34, were part of a “triple exchange” which involved three donors and three recipients who had surgeries in Fargo, Minneapolis and Sioux Falls, S.D., on the same day.

Voth and Knodle were operated on at Sanford Health in Fargo. Voth’s kidney went to Sioux Falls; the kidney from that recipient’s donor went to Minneapolis, and the Minneapolis donor’s kidney came to Knodle in Fargo—a kind of “round robin” of organ donation.

It’s a way for a patient to receive a kidney even though his or her donor is not compatible, said Knodle.

For Voth, the decision to donate was a no-brainer.

“I didn’t really think about it,” he said. “This was someone I cared about and loved, and she needed a kidney, so why not?”

Click here to read the rest of the story.

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