Aunt Jumpstarts ‘Chain’ of Kidney Donations to Save Niece’s Life
While trying to save the life of her niece, an aunt started a “kidney donation chain” that ended up saving the lives of three people.
Dawn Bates had volunteered to donate a kidney to her niece, Nicole Johnson, who had been diagnosed with acute kidney failure in 2014.
When the doctors told Bates that she was incompatible, she sought to find a stranger who could use her kidney, and who had a family member that could donate a kidney to her niece.
Last year, the doctors started looking for people who could form a kidney donation chain with Bates. They found a Chinese couple, Tiffany and Terry Fung.
Tiffany needed a kidney, but her husband was an incompatible donor, but Bates was compatible. They decided to “split their compatability.” Bates would donate her kidney to Tiffany if Tiffany’s husband donated his kidney to Bates’s niece.
“Whatever karma she put out, it worked for me,” Tiffany told reporters. “Splitting up our compatibility to help someone else was…not a problem.”
However, Tiffany’s husband wasn’t a compatible donor for Bates’s niece, and doctors had to fine another pair to “close” the kidney chain. Thankfully, they did.
Catherine Richards wanted to give a kidney to her mother in law, Elaine Richards, but they were incompatible. However, Tiffany’s husband was compatible, and ended up giving a kidney to Elaine.
Bates’s niece received a kidney from Catherine, and the chain was closed.
“I was at a family dinner and out of no where she said, ‘Nikki, I want to donate.’ I was honored,” Bates’s niece said of her aunt “I’m thankful for my aunt and for her spirit and attitude.”
The kidney chain was remarkable as it took place over the course of a few months, where the donors had time to change their minds.
“When one person got transplanted we had to hope the next donor didn’t change their mind,” said Dr. Nicole Ali, of the hospital’s transplant center. “That took a leap of faith with each donor…it took [an] amazing amount of generosity.”