Biggest Paired Live-Donor Kidney Exchange at UW Hospital

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The eight transplant donors and recipients involved in the biggest paired live-donor kidney exchange at UWMADISON - Eight patients and seven surgeons added up to one big milestone at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in July.


Four donors and four recipients underwent surgery Thursday at UW Hospital in the largest paired live-donor kidney exchange in the history of the UW Health Transplant program. The two- to three-hour donor surgeries and transplants involved seven UW surgeons.


"It was the largest paired exchange we've ever done here," explained Dr. Tony D'Alessandro, interim chair of UW Health's transplant program.


It's common for friends and family to step up and offer to donate an organ for someone with advanced kidney disease. Unfortunately, in many cases they're unable to donate because their blood types don't match or the recipient's immune system has high levels of antibodies to the donor's organ.


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When that happens, coordinators at UW's transplant program place the patient - and the donor - on a paired-donation list and begin looking for other pairs of donors and recipients that might prove a suitable match. In this case, Kathy Schappe, a transplant coordinator with UW's transplant program, found four matches, and the donors agreed to participate.


"When it works out like this, it really escalates the sense of joy and happiness," says Schappe.


Here's how the paired donation worked:

  • Daniel Fabisiak, 43, of DeForest, received a kidney from Lois Chupp, 52, of Richland Center.
  • Dan's wife, Kelly Fabisiak, 42, in turn donated her kidney to Carl Vitale, 48, of New York.
  • Carl's brother, Marc Vitale, 43, who lives in Madison, donated a kidney to Susan Rader, 57, who lives in the upper peninsula of Michigan.
  • Susan's son, John Rader, 32, who also lives in the U.P., donated his kidney to Michael Olson, 32, of McFarland. Lois Chupp is a friend and co-worker of Michael's mother-in-law.

After years of managing their failing kidneys, the four recipients now live free from dialysis, and all shared their gratitude to the donors who stepped forward to make this exchange possible.


"I thought I'd spend the next 20 years on dialysis," said Susan Rader.


The generosity of these four people, and others who decide to donate their kidneys, means patients like Rader can return to an active lifestyle.


"The fact that we did this procedure indicates that there are many for whom it's difficult to find a suitable kidney," says D'Alessandro. "Paired exchanges like this are a mechanism to help address that, and more could be done if more people considered living donation."


The UW transplant program is one of the largest in the country. In 2009 they transplanted nearly 500 organs, more than 300 of which were kidneys. Kidney transplant patients at UW Hospital average a 95 percent one-year survival rate.


UW's transplant program continues to look for paired matches and encourages organ donation. 

Date Published: 11/17/2010

News tag(s):  transplantanthony m dalessandro

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