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Paired Donation

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San Francisco is known for her Golden Gate Bridge. Her majestic views of the water. And her famous skyline. And now, she is also home to a new medical trend. Dr. Steven Katznelson explains. "We spend a lot of time making it work for 30 years so this is the beginning of hopefully a long experience."

Last Thursday, at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, a press conference got underway for a very special group of people. After so much pain, suffering and worry, the smiles were finally able to break through. iPhone captured the moment for family photo albums. And the media came to share the news with the world.   

On one side of the table sit four organ donors. And on another side are their recipients. And this is the first time they are meeting face-to-face. They are all apart of the federal government's kidney paired donation program - donors wanting to give their kidney to a loved one, but they aren't an ideal match for that person. So a sophisticated computer program enables these people to give their kidney to someone else, a stranger, knowing their loved one would get a kidney from someone else in return. So on the 18th of May all 8 people went into surgery. And all 8 came out alive and well. Gilbert gave his kidney to Bonnie to save his wife Christina. Christina got her kidney from Diane. Diane donated to save her husband Toby. And here's where things get strange. Dave wanted to help his buddy Regan and so randomly ended up giving his kidney to Toby. "I'll give you a story. He and I have been friends for 17 years. We worked for the same sheriff's office," says Toby. 

And that sheriff's office is the one in Douglas County, Nevada. Doctors call the chances of two people in a paired donation actually knowing each other is like finding a needle in a haystack."Dave saved my life. I have a whole different life now. I was on dialysis for 2 years. I had an anchor around my neck. I couldn't go anywhere, couldn't do anything. And by having a new kidney, by having Dave's kidney, I can travel I can have a better diet, the whole bit," says Toby.  

Dave is still in shock his kidney went to a friend. "I'm just thrilled to make a difference in his life and Diane's life. It's pretty spectacular that the two of them are in the program. Still, quite a surprise to have it end the way that it did or rather begin the way that it has I think it's phenomenal."

Written by Wendy Damonte
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