This past Thursday (July 27th) I was invited by the Transplant Coordinator at the Transplant Center at Yale New Haven Hospital to attend a press conference to announce and celebrate the success of an 18 patient – 9 way kidney transplant exchange that the Transplant Center completed over two weeks in May/June! It is a truly remarkable story and the largest transplant chain ever completed in Connecticut. There were some great individual stories, but one lady in the chain was receiving her third transplanted kidney. Her husband was a donor and they had donors/recipients from New Hampshire, New York City and as far as Florida. Unlike my exchange that had all 8 surgeries in one day, they had to do this exchange over about 2 weeks because of the logistics involved with scheduling patients, surgeons, Operating Rooms etc.. It was great to see many of the people who worked on me two and a half years ago. Also I spoke with one of the surgeons and he was saying how they learned so much from our 4 way exchange that they used in this exchange – especially to not do the press conference the week after the transplant when everyone is still recovering from surgery. I also had the chance to talk with the surgeon that operated on me, Dr. David Mulligan (Head of the Transplant Center) and Dr. Sanjay Killkarney, the surgeon that removed Meg’s kidney. I had planned to quietly sneak out after seeing my Doctors, but as I looked to the door I saw Patricia Menno-Coveney, the altruistic donor that donated her kidney to me!
For more information about this extraordinary transplant chain you can read about it at the following link.
It was great to see Patricia! Unless you have tried to live with kidney failure or experienced life on Dialysis, it is hard to describe the feelings I have for Patricia. We also spent time being introduced by the Transplant Coordinator, Joyce Albert, to several of the donors/recipients in the saga and some of the administrators of the Yale Health System. We also had a chance to meet the lady that started this transplant chain. She was an altruistic donor, and she and her wife, who also donated a kidney about a year ago, both got inspired by hearing about Patricia and our transplant exchange. It was very humbling to spend time with these three ladies who selflessly donated. We were also interviewed as a group and while I tried to just stand there I did tell them they will never know the extent to which they have improved the quality of life for their respective recipients. Patricia and I did get to have a nice visit where we mainly talked about our families. She also wanted to know about the HGTV Dream Home hoopla. She had read about it in a Connecticut Paper and then saw the TV show. The whole day was a great experience and hopefully there will be more transplants to come because of the great press that they receive from these events.