Three Kidney Transplants Performed at Once
Fri Aug 1, 5:29 PM ET Add Health - AP to My Yahoo!
By FOSTER KLUG, Associated Press Writer
BALTIMORE - Johns Hopkins University surgeons performed three simultaneous kidney transplants in a complex piece of medical choreography that had nurses rushing organs in labeled coolers among six operating rooms.
The six synchronized operations — three to remove the kidneys, three to implant them — became possible after an extraordinarily lucky, six-way organ match among the patients, their friends and their families.
All six patients were doing well after Monday's surgery. Each recipient met his or her donor for the first time on Friday.
"We each have a piece of each other inside us," recipient Germaine Allum said through tears at a hospital news conference.
The surgery lasted 11 hours, with two doctors, two nurses and two anesthesiologists in each operating room.
"It was truly a marathon," Dr. Robert Montgomery said.
The six operations were performed simultaneously, in part, "to avoid any possibility of anyone backing out, someone getting in a car accident, whatever," Montgomery said. "If all the operations start at the same time, it removes those variables."
Montgomery called the coordinated operations "logistically a monumental experience," and described the matching of each of the three transplant patients with a healthy stranger as a "Eureka-type moment."
The recipients — Jeremy Weiser-Warschoff, 13, of Silver Spring; Tracy Stahl, 39, of Johnstown, Pa.; and Allum, 30, of Coral Gables, Fla. — had each come to the hospital with his or her own prospective donor. But the donors did not prove to be good matches for them.
Instead, the hospital did some mixing and matching.
Julia Tower, 57, originally planned to donate to Weiser-Warschoff, her friends' son, but proved a better match for Stahl. Likewise, Paul Boissiere, 30, wanted to give his kidney to Allum, his fiancee, but wound up donating to Weiser-Warschoff. And Connie Dick, 41, intended to donate her kidney to his sister, Stahl, but instead was Allum's donor.
"It was really possible because these three donors desperately wanted to see their loved ones receive a kidney and were open to any possibility to make that happen," Montgomery said.
"I looked into Tracy's eyes and felt a bond that I'd never thought of before," Tower said. "It's wonderful."