Altruistic Donor Sets off Live-Donor Kidney Transplant Chain

By: Alexandra Salerno

Video by Timothy Betler 


Because of one person’s decision to donate a kidney to a stranger, three others received the kidney they were hoping for, too. In all, eight people participated in a kidney transplant chain that happened over two days at UPMC Montefiore in April; they met for the first time Tuesday.

This series of live-donor kidney transplants, UPMC’s largest internal chain, was set off by one person with no connection to the other participants. In a transplant chain, someone who isn’t compatible with their loved one instead donates the organ to a compatible stranger. In exchange, that stranger’s loved one donates their organ to another stranger, and so on.

On April 15 and 16, UPMC surgeons performed four kidney removal surgeries, called nephrectomy, and four kidney transplant surgeries as part of the chain. Here’s a look at who donated to whom: