Kidney gets transplanted twice in two weeks
A kidney transplanted into one patient, which then started to fail, was removed and transplanted into a second patient who is doing well.
Lorenzo Gallon supervised the transplants over a two-week span in June at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, the report in The New England Journal of Medicine says.
While transplanted kidneys have been removed from deceased recipients and given to someone else, this is the first time in the U.S. a living recipient has passed along a donated kidney, according to Joel Newman, assistant director of communication for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
Since the surgery, Gallon conducted tests on the kidney and has determined although it was once diseased, it is now healthy in the second patient. Never before, Gallon said, has a disease affecting a kidney in one patient been reversed in another recipient.
"Normally, when a transplant isn't successful, we have to take it out and discard it because it is doing more damage than good to the patient," said Gallon, medical director of the hospital's kidney transplant program.
The kidney belonged to Cera Fearing, 21, of Elk Grove, Illinois. She first donated the organ June 16 to her brother Ray Fearing, 27, who suffers from one of the most common kinds of kidney disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). It forms scar tissue in the part of the kidney that filters out waste and ultimately causes kidney failure.
Although the cause is unknown, the disease is attributed to conditions outside the organ, Gallon said. In patients with FSGS, disease recurrence is about 50% after a transplant.
When the disease started to attack the kidney within days of the surgery, Gallon informed Fearing that it was a life-threatening condition for him, but that the kidney could probably be reused for someone else. Gallon performed the second transplant June 30.
"To me giving it to someone else seemed like the right thing to do," said Ray Fearing, who undergoes dialysis several times a week and is not currently a candidate for another kidney. "This was a gift to me, and I wanted to pass along the gift. I didn't realize what a big thing it was at the time."