Aunt's selfless kidney donation to stranger opens door to save niece

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Amy Freeze has the latest details.

There are currently 100,000 people on the list for organ donation in the U.S., and the wait time for a kidney for New Yorkers with certain blood types can be up to seven years.

But one woman set off a chain of events that shortened the wait for three recipients.

Six people who were part of a triple-kidney donor exchange all met for the first time at North Shore University Hospital's Northwell Transplant Center in the culmination of a journey that began as Dawn Bates' selfless effort to save her niece Nicole Johnson.

"This was an opportunity for me as a human being to do something good," she said.

Even though Dawn was not compatible with Nicole, she gave her kidney up believing good karma would come back to them. Doctors matched Dawn to Tiffany Fung, whose husband Terry was compatible but who needed additional tests to match.

Instead, he agreed instead to give his kidney to a stranger named Elaine Richards. And that left Elaine's original donor, her daughter-in-law Catherine, as an unmatched kidney. But it turned out she was a match for Nicole Johnson.

That was the karma that Aunt Dawn had been waiting for, and it came right back around to save three lives.

Transplant doctors say the concept of giving and matching can bridge the critical gap between supply and demand in organ transplants.

Another twist is that all the donors are educators, perhaps offering up the lesson of a lifetime, that in giving, there is also receiving.
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