Little did Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy know that his altruistic kidney donation would spark the world's second largest kidney transplant chain.
"I was hoping to help six people, not just one, by the multiplier effect of an altruistic donation starting this chain," says Mulroy, "But to know that it helped 28 people, second largest in the world, it's just amazing."
It is also the quickest transplant chain, taking five weeks to complete. The world's largest transplant chain helped 30 recipients in five months.
Altruistic donation and transplant chains through the National Kidney Registry are programs Methodist University Hospital has worked to bring to the mid-south for approximately three years.
"To just watch it kind of progressing and growing and now these chains are getting much longer, it's a really great feeling," says Dr. Jin-Yon Kim, Assistant Professor of Transplant Surgery at Methodist.
This most recent chain, known to the National Kidney Registry as Chain 221, especially helped ten recipients who were extremely hard to match and waited years for a donor. This includes one patient that was treated for years at Methodist.
"I have been working with one of the patients in this chain, a young woman who has been on dialysis over eight years. She got a kidney that was compatible. She got the best match she could possibly get," says Dr. Vinaya Rao, Medical Director of Transplant Nephrology, "I simply cannot express how absolutely amazing this is since I have watched this young woman."
Doctors at Methodist say altruistic donation is the future of organ transplants and the solution for the organ shortage.
"I think we've all gotten more creative about trying to come up with different solutions to the organ shortage," says Kim, "Now you can literally start a chain where they can donate into this system and give their kidney to somebody but then also allow someone else – many, many other people – to also receive a kidney."
Rao says the living kidney and organ donation shortage is especially prevalent in the mid-south, adding, "In this part of the country, people unfortunately may not have family who can qualify, as donors who aren't medically fit to be donors."
To be an altruistic donor, donors have to medically qualify and go through simple tests especially about family medical history. To discuss becoming an altruistic donor, call Methodist University Hospital at (901) 516-8466.
Read more information about altruistic kidney donation at the National Kidney Registry's website.
Methodist already has four people signed up to become altruistic donors.