STONY BROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — In a first for Long Island, a multi-state swap of kidneys has helped transform three lives in three states.
As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported Monday, it all began last Tuesday in Suffolk County.
Tom Danz and his wife Angela were able to greet and thank their doctors just after both underwent kidney surgery in a most remarkable way.
Two years ago, both of Angela’s kidneys had to be removed due to spreading tumors. Tom immediately stepped forward to offer one of his own.
“We were hit with some devastating news that we weren’t a match, which was devastating for both of us,” Tom Danz said.
The couple’s daughter was among friends and family who also volunteered, but were not a match.
“Even though we got a denial of results, there was always hope that someone else was in the system,” said their daughter, Alex Danz.
Staff at the Stony Brook Kidney Center found that hope by searching the National Organ Donor Registry. Then last week, using couriers and airplanes, they sent Tom Danz’s kidney to a recipient in St. Louis whose non-matching donor’s kidney was then sent to a matching recipient in Minnesota.
The Minnesotan also had a non-matching donor, but their kidney was exactly the right fit for Angela Danz. Now, for the first time in years, Angela is able to use the bathroom instead of a dialysis machine.
“I have a granddaughter who’s 21 months old. I think we’re potty training together,” she said.
Doctors and coordinators were pleased at how fast Angela progressed.
“Not only Angela got this whole new lease on life, but there are two other patients who did as well,” said Stony Brook University Hospital transplant coordinator Dawn Francisquini.
“She’s only six days out from surgery, and she went home on day four with normal kidney function,” said Dr. Frank Darras, medical director at Stony Brook University Hospital.
Tom Danz said he feels just fine with his remaining kidney, while Angela can finally eat normal foods again.
“I’ve been truly blessed,” she said. “It’s a miracle. I’ve been waiting a long time for this to happen.”
She is well enough to do some traveling, and perhaps one day meet the anonymous donors who, along with her husband, gave Angela her life back.
A total of 123,000 Americans are on organ donor waiting lists, and every day, 18 needy recipients die before they can be matched to a donor.