Son donates kidney in six-way swap to save father's life

June 14, 2013 6:31:41 PM PDT
We've heard a lot about long waiting lists for people who need organ transplants. But a father who needed a kidney transplant got one through a six-way kidney swap that included his son, and now he's almost a married man.

Jim Bertrand began last year hoping for a new kidney. On Friday, he was getting married.

Bertrand made the leap from no future to a new future with the help of his son, Andrew. Andrew donated his kidney, but his father didn't get it. It was a part of a six-way swap.

"Brothers from Mississippi that Andrew gave the kidney to; and then his brother gave a kidney to a gentleman here in Houston. Then my kidney came from a lady that worked with guy that needed the kidney here," Jim said.

Swaps like this help when there isn't a good match in the patient's family.

"This is greatly expanding the number of people able to receive organs whose loved ones otherwise would not be able to donate to them," said Dr. Wesley Mayer, Andre's surgeon at Methodist Hospital.

Andrew says the surgery was painful but saving his father's life was worth it.

"They kind of tell you that the donors have the worst part because they're going from 100 percent function to 50 percent," Andrew said.

Now, Andrew and his father say they're better than before the surgery and have a special bond.

And the bride, Tiffany Dockum, too is aware that without Andrew's gift, there likely wouldn't be a wedding.

"It takes a lot for somebody to give something of themselves, and there's not a whole lot of people who are willing to do that," Dockum said.

"I don't really feel any different, so to me, it's not like I've really lost anything and seeing how happy he is now, I'm just happy I was able to help him with that," Andrew said.

"He helped out a complete stranger just so I could be helped. And then a complete stranger helped me. Humbling is the only word that comes to mind when you think about this," Jim said.

This year, an estimated 40 percent of people who get a kidney transplant, will get an organ from a relative or friend willing to give them a kidney.

And more and more kidney transplants are the result of multiple person swaps.

Find Christi on Facebook at ABC13-Christi Myers or on Twitter at @ChristiMyers13

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