Indiana man makes medical history as third owner of single kidney

by Symptom Advice on May 12, 2012

The groundbreaking operation was detailed in today’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Picture: AP Source: AP

  • Man gets kidney handed down from two previous owners
  • Surgeons re-implanted the partially-damaged organ
  • The re-used organ thrived and damage was reversed

IN a medical first, a kidney transplant recipient from Indiana in the US was given a "recycled" organ that was handed down from two previous owners.

Erwin Gomez, a 67-year-old surgeon from Valparaiso, Indiana, received the kidney after its first recipient, Ray Fearing, 27, from Illinois, found that his body rejected the organ.

The groundbreaking operation was detailed in today’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Mr Fearing has a rare disease called FSGS, which causes damage to kidneys, and soon after the transplant in June last year, his new kidney – donated to him by his sister – showed signs it was being affected by his condition.

Doctors acted quickly, as the donated kidney posed life-threating symptoms to mr Fearing, and examined the possibility of re-implanting the now partially-damaged organ it into another patient without FSGS, rather than discarding it.

Mr Gomez was given the option of taking a twice-used kidney, or remaining on the waiting list for a completely healthy one. he accepted without hesitation, and two weeks after mr Fearing received the kidney, it was re-implanted into the father-of-five.

The re-used organ thrived in mr Gomez and just eight days after transplantation at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital, tests showed that the damage to the organ was reversed.

Dr Lorenzo Gallon, mr Fearing’s doctor and medical director of the kidney transplant program at the hospital, said, "When post-surgery tests indicated that Ray was at risk of developing life-threatening conditions due to the reoccurrence of the disease, we had to remove the kidney before he deteriorated. The kidney however was still a relatively healthy, viable organ that could be transplanted into someone else without FSGS."

He added, "after numerous discussions to carefully consider this first-ever procedure, we presented Ray with the option to donate his kidney to someone on the national kidney waiting list rather than discarding it."

Mr Fearing, whose 21-year-old sister Cera donated the organ, was hopeful he will receive another kidney transplant in the future.

"It may not have been my time, but I am grateful that I was able to help another patient," mr Fearing said. "my day will come."

The surgeons involved in re-implanting the kidney said that as well as successfully recycling a FSGS-damaged organ, they had made "significant strides in better understanding" the cause of the condition.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: