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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A domino kidney transplant: Life imitating art imitating life

In a 2008 episode of ABC's TV show, Grey's Anatomy, Dr. George O'Malley is involved in a possible 6-way kidney donation, called a domino transplant.  That may have been based on a true story, as the first such transplant had been performed 20 years earlier.  Katelyn Rankin-Woeste saw that episode and filed it away in her  mind.

Three years later, she learned that Vincent, a five-year-old boy in her family's social circle, needed a kidney.  She told Vincent's mother that she was interested in being a donor, if she was found to be an appropriate match for him.   The mother gave Katelyn the phone number at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, not really expecting that Katelyn would really carry it through, as only two people outside the family had done so.  The hospital staff found Katelyn's kidney was indeed an appropriate match for Vincent.  

Katelyn searched in the website Cincinnati.MD [now larger, known as YourCity.MD], and found an excellent local surgeon.  She had used the same website to find an ObGyn doctor a few years before.  Her kidney donation surgery occurred this morning, May 15.  
Vincent's insurance will pay for the bulk of her medical expenses, but she has been paying substantial co-payments herself.  Donations to defray her costs can be sent to Charities MD Katies Fund, 209 S. West Street, Mason, Ohio 45040.

Advice:  Be like Katelyn, and pray that if you ever need a kidney, someone like her will be there for you.

Read about other acts of heroism in Chapter 11 of my book, Getting Your Best Health Care:  Real-World Stories for Patient Empowerment [e-book]. Thanks to Katelyn and Joe Benza for interviews, and to Joelle Caputa of CPR Communications for connecting us.

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