Dr. Michael Denson, director of Marine Resources Research Institute with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, donated a kidney at MUSC on April 3. His donation set in motion a six-person, living organ donor chain across the country that came back to Charleston in August to help Amber Cue, a 17-year-old MUSC patient. Read Amber’s story here.
A kidney chain is a series of living donor transplantation surgeries that begins with an altruistic donor like Dr. Denson who willingly gives up his/her kidney to a complete stranger whom they may never meet. Donors and recipients are then coordinated from that initial pairing through the National Kidney Registry’s living database, creating chains that can save 30 lives or more.
There are more than 96,000 people awaiting kidney transplants. Though family members and friends of those patients may wish to become kidney donors for their loved ones, they aren’t always a match. Kidney chains can help a patient who has a willing but incompatible donor by matching them with another incompatible donor and recipient.
Dr. Denson’s kidney was flown to Cleveland, where it was given to a young woman. In response, her incompatible donor gave a kidney that was paired with a different patient awaiting transplantation, and so on, until a kidney donated by a police officer was flown to Charleston and given to Amber, the lifesaving payback transplant that closed the six-person chain begun by Dr. Denson.
By creating chains of donors and recipients, kidney chains can help facilitate a kidney transplant in less than six months, saving any number of lives in the process. MUSC is one of 70 different centers that participate in the National Kidney Registry’s living donor kidney program, and is the only transplant center in South Carolina.