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GIFT OF LIFE: ECU, PCMH provide 6-person kidney exchange

Dec. 22, 2011

ECU News Services

Doctors announced today what is believed to be the first successful six-person kidney exchange in the Carolinas.

Doctors from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and Eastern Urological Associates teamed to perform the surgeries Dec. 13 at Pitt County Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Robert Harland, professor and chief of immunology and transplantation at ECU and chief of transplant surgery at PCMH, said the procedures were successful and allowed three of the hospital's wait list patients to receive living donor kidneys instead of potentially waiting years for a kidney from a deceased donor.

"This is the culmination of a process that has taken more than a year," Harland said.

"Each of these recipients had a willing donor who was not compatible with them. By finding better matches from the list of incompatible donors, we were able to complete three living donor transplants, which can be performed electively and have a longer lifespan than a transplant from a deceased donor."

Others experts involved in the procedure included the following:
  • Dr. Jonathan Taylor (Eastern Urological Associates)
  • Dr. Greg Murphy (Eastern Urological Associates)
  • Dr. Paul Bolin Jr. (ECU Physicians)
  • Dr. Scott Kendrick (Eastern Nephrology Associates)
  • Dr. Carl Haisch (ECU Physicians)
  • Dr. Lorita Rebellato (ECU associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine director of histocompatibility lab)
The donors and patients are the following:
  • Timur Saltuklaroglu, age 43, of Knoxville, Tenn., donated to Lynette Collins, 56, of Jamesville.
  • Darlene Williams, 49 of Warrenton, donated to Joseph Kalinowski, 53, of Greenville.
  • James Collins, 30, of Durham, donated to Stephanie Richardson, 31 of Hollister.
In these transplants, one donor did not have a compatible blood type for his recipient, and the two women who needed kidneys had antibodies that reacted with the donor tissue types, leading to a much higher risk of rejection. However, by exchanging kidneys, recipients could avoid these incompatibilities and receive optimal outcomes.

The donors met the recipients for the first time Thursday and all are doing well.
Stephanie Richardson, who had been on dialysis for more than two years, said she had become discouraged when she found out her mother, Darlene Williams, wasn't a good match. Receiving a kidney from James Collins has been a blessing.

"It's one of the best things that ever happened to me," she said.
Williams is thankful for James too. "It's a win-win. It didn't matter a whole lot to me whether she got my kidney, just so she would get one. I was willing to give my kidney to whomever it would give a better life. I thank everyone for the opportunity and the gift that James has given me."

James Collins first offered his kidney to his mother, Lynette, but they were not a good match. "I thought I was not going to be able to help. But then to find out that someone was going to get my kidney and, in turn, it would help my mother, I was all in and ready to do what was needed to make things go well."

Lynnette Collins said she can't find enough words to describe how special this Christmas is to her family. "As we're celebrating the birth of Christ, we're celebrating a re-birth within ourselves," she said.

Lynnette Collins received her new kidney from Kalinowski's friend and former colleague, Tim Saltuklaroglu. And Kalinowski received his kidney from Darlene Williams. "Because of the kindness of someone else to help, it's just a wonderful gift," Kalinowski said.

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