Nuns help break Chicago's kidney swap record

April 28, 2010 1:14:35 PM PDT
Sixteen patients are recovering from a kidney donor exchange at a Chicago hospital, and it could be the largest swap ever recorded in the city.

The eight donors and eight recipients appear to comprise, at the very at least, the largest organ swap at a Chicago hospital ever done. The surgeries were performed at Northwestern Memorial Hospital over a period of three days, and all the patients were reportedly doing fine.

Usually called domino and kidney exchanges, organ swaps happen when hospitals are able to match incompatible donor-recipient pairs to other incompatible donor-recipient pairs. And in fact, they're being done more and more often to increase the living donor pool.

Two of those involved in the exachnge are Roman Catholic nuns. One is a donor, one is a recipient, and it turned out they were compatible. Thirteen nuns were tested as part of the living donor pool, and when one of their own needed a transplant, another sister stepped up.

"Well, I wouldn't say that it was a little bit scary. But most of the time it was very rewarding," said donor Sister Adyta Kraweczyk.

"I really feel grateful for whoever volunteered to be tested, and especially for those who have such a generous heart and went through that for me," said recipient Sister Francesca Witkowska.

Many of the patients have already been released from the hospital.

The most recent of the surgeries was done Monday.

One of the female recipients had been on the waiting list for nine years.


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