A massive kidney chain that spanned multiple states has helped save the lives of four people in need of kidney transplants, including a Florida police officer's.
Officials at the Florida Hospital Transplant Institute in Orlando said they performed two of the four transplants, including one on a deputy who had been living with kidney disease for years.
"This transplant chain was made possible by heroes — people willing to give their kidney in order to save another person's life," Dr. Bobby Nibhanupudy, medical director of Florida Hospital’s abdominal transplant program, said in a statement yesterday. "Thousands of people are waiting for life-saving transplants. This paired exchange is proof that you could be a match to someone — maybe across the country — and become their hero too."
Nibhanupudy said that it can take years to get a new kidney if a patient has to wait to be selected from the transplant list.
Seminole County Deputy Blayne Badura had been on dialysis multiple times a week until his transplant earlier this year. Another police officer, Bobby Draughon, of the Oviedo Police Department, worked in the same area as Badura. The two became acquaintances on the job.
"He would step out on traffic stops with me and back me up," Draughon said during a press conference yesterday. Draughon said he knew Badura was sick but hadn't realized how bad his condition was until he saw a GoFundMe page his wife had set up.
"At the end it said if you happened to have a kidney to donate that would be great as well," Draughon recalled. "I realized this is something to look into."
Unfortunately, Draughon wasn't a match, but doctors at the hospital asked him if he would be willing to take part in a national kidney chain.
The idea of a kidney chain, or paired exchange, has become popular in recent years as a way to match willing, living donors with recipients, even if they are strangers. The chain starts with a patient who has a loved one or other person willing to be a donor, but is not a match. Doctors can then try to find other patients in a similar position so they can "swap" donors and receive matching kidneys more quickly.
In this case, five people were willing donors for four patients in need, creating the large kidney chain. Badura ultimately received his kidney from Lauren Gau, 26, who had wanted to donate to her mother, but was not a match.
Because she took part in the kidney chain, she was able to donate to Badura and her mother was able to receive a kidney from one of the other participants.
"It’s a complete miracle," Badura said during the press conference. Draughon's kidney was donated to another patient on the West Coast and their pledged donor has offered to be a donor for a fifth patient in need of a kidney.