In a bid to save her niece's life who was in urgent need of a kidney transplant, an aunt created a three-way kidney swap daisy chain.
In this unique kidney swap daisy chain, a set of three pairs of people were involved - an aunt and her niece, a daughter-in-law and her mother-in-law, and a husband and his wife. They were not matched to be the donor for their loved ones, and hence became a part of a unique chain when the donor from one pair donated a kidney to the receptor from another pair.
It all began when Dawn Bates wanted to donate her kidney to her niece, Nicole Johnson. However, the match didn't come through. Not giving up, Dawn looked up the living donor registry and it was revealed that a certain Catherine Richards, a complete stranger, was an ideal match.
While Catherine agreed to donate her kidney to Nicole, it turned out her mother-in-law, Elaine Richards, who she was incompatible with, found a perfect match in another donor, Terry Fung Ching.
And finally, Terry's wife Tiffany, who also needed a kidney transplant, found a matched donor in Dawn Bates completing the full cycle.
The doctors said that though the daisy chain swap was complicated, the success rate is higher and the patients live longer with organs received from a living donor. And with more than 100,000 people awaiting kidney transplant, the rise in living donor volunteers throughout the country, using daisy chain, puts the odds of finding a match in a critical situation at a much better level.
All six donors and recipients met up for the first time on April 21 at North Shore University Hospital, New York, for a news conference. The doctor present at the conference mentioned that the waiting time for organ transplant for some blood types can take up to 5 to 7 years or more.
"I just planted the seeds and this is a beautiful garden. It is a wonderful feeling," said Bates, among hugs, smiles and tears of joy.
Dr. Nicole Ali, director of the hospital's transplant center said that this unique organ swap came into being only because of the selfless nature of all three donors - Dawn Bates, Catherine Richards and Terry Fung Ching.