Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Canadian woman part of longest kidney transplant chain

Josephine Bonventre wanted to donate a kidney to an American cousin. It wasn't a perfect match but she became part of a 60-person transplant chain and her cousin got the kidney he needed.
When Toronto realtor Josephine Bonventre discovered a distant cousin needed a transplant, she decided almost instantly to donate a kidney.
Her blood is Type O making her a universal donor and compatible with her cousin Cesare Bonventre’s Type B blood. But the tile worker in Brooklyn, NY, had anti-bodies which made the match less than ideal.
It was this non-perfect match that lead Bonventre to participate in a 60-person kidney transplant chain that took place last year in the U.S. — the longest in history.

Kidney transplant chains shorten the wait for wellness
When her cousin first asked her to donate that kidney to a stranger, to enable him to get a better match from someone else, she needed to sleep on it, she says, reflecting on the unusual circumstances. Though her family was supportive of her decision to donate to her cousin — even though he was her fifth cousin, lived across the border and was someone she didn’t know well – they were not on board with the turn of events. They urged her to think of her two children; they suggested she didn’t know what she was getting into.
“I woke up with fresh thoughts and thought `Why not give it to a stranger? I’ll be helping another person and he’ll be getting a match that’s better for him,’” she says nearly three months after the transplant took place.
And so Bonventre, 41, became part of Chain 124, the longest chain of kidney transplants ever constructed, linking 30 willing donors with 30 recipients who needed the life-saving procedure. The extraordinary story was chronicled in The New York Times last weekend. All but one of the 60 people involved agreed to be identified for the story. Ordinarily strict confidentiality keeps donor and recipient apart.
The domino chain of 60 operations began with one Good Samaritan, a California man named Rick Ruzzamenti, who after hearing of someone who donated a kidney to an ailing friend, made an impulsive decision to donate too. Four months, 17 hospitals and 11 states later, Donald C. Terry Jr., of Joliet, Ill., who had no one in his circle able or willing to donate, received the kidney that completed the chain.
Bonventre went to Brooklyn for preliminary testing, went back one week prior to surgery and stayed for 10 days afterward. One month later, she checked in with her family doctor. The only other involvement of the Canadian medical system was having blood drawn and sending the results to the Brooklyn transplant center.
She needed a month to recover fully, but the procedure was a resounding success. “He feels fantastic,” Bonventre says. “He has more energy than he’s had in a long time.”
And her?
I’m good. It’s surreal, like it never happened,” she says. “I feel 100 per cent normal.”
The experience was life changing in the best possible way, she says. “It’s totally worth it.”
“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, donatelife.net
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You.

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