CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — Surgeons are celebrating the success of a first ever paired kidney exchange at Charleston Area Medical Center Kidney Transplant Center, and it's the first in the state of West Virginia.
On Tuesday morning, Pam King and her husband, Brian, met with Dustin Kent and his dad, Dave, to share their kidney donation story.
"Two weeks ago we were strangers, and now we're basically family," said Dustin Kent, who donated a kidney to Brian King.
Brian King and Dave Kent needed a kidney, but their loved ones weren't a match.
That is when doctors had an idea.
"Dustin Kent, who had been devastated to find out he couldn't donate to his father, his blood type happened to match Brian King's blood type and Pam's happened to match Dave's," said Alice Jones, CAMC living donor coordinator and a registered nurse. "They went from this point of thinking they weren't going to be able to help their loved one to change their life to this is now a possibility."
The Kings and Kents went through what is called a paired kidney exchange, sometimes referred to as a kidney swap. When a living kidney donor is incompatible with the recipient, he or she exchanges kidneys with another donor or recipient pair who is a match.
The two families met about a week before the surgery.
"I think, it kind of helped us getting to meet them and it kind of gave us a chance to find out who they were," Dustin Kent said. "I think that helped out a lot, just to be able to meet them and talk to them."
The families said they are happy they were able to help each other out.
"Dustin is 30 years my junior, and he made a huge sacrifice," said Brian King, who received a kidney from Dustin Kent. "I have nothing but gratitude."
There are currently 156 patients of the kidney transplant center still waiting for life-changing transplants.
Pam King hopes more people will come forward and donate organs to others in need.