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Kansas City’s largest transplant chain meets for first time

April 30, 2018

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Some donors and recipients in Kansas City’s longest kidney transplant chain are meeting for the first time.

Surgeons at the University of Kansas Hospital completed a 10-person kidney transplant chain over two days in January, the Kansas City Star reported .

Most recipients had someone who wanted to donate to them but weren’t a match. The donor instead gave the kidney to someone else, and that person’s donor did the same, continuing the chain.

Open-ended kidney chains are rare because they often require at least one altruistic donor, which is the most uncommon type. Altruistic donors are willing to give a kidney even if no one they know is in need of one.

Only about 2 percent of kidney donors fit that profile, said Sean Kumer, a University of Kansas transplant surgeon.

Wichita retiree Francis Belton, 63, was on dialysis for years. His son Dustin Belton wanted to donate his kidney but he wasn’t a match for his father.

Transplant nurse coordinator Melissa Fowler later told Francis Belton he matched with an altruistic donor. Dustin Belton agreed to give his kidney to a stranger because his father was receiving a donation from a stranger.

Dustin Belton’s kidney went to Stephanie Williams of Independence, Missouri. The 29-year-old woman was born with only one kidney, which was failing. She was the last person in the transplant chain.

Shawn Dawes met his donor, Jon Sink, for the first time Friday. Dawes said receiving Sink’s kidney is an opportunity to continue being a father to his 9-year-old son.

“To get to go to sports games and coach him and watch him grow up,” he said.

Sink’s donation was the first to kick off the chain of transplants.

“Here I am with two kidneys and I only need one and here’s a guy that’s suffering,” Sink said. “There’s people all over the country that are suffering because they’re in (kidney) failure, so it’s really the least I could do. It was an easy decision.”

Belton said he believes the donors and recipients feel a deep connection to one another. Belton predicts the pairs will stay in touch.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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