When Gretchen Kingery of Pulaski, Ga., found out she wasn’t a match to donate a kidney to her husband Lee, she was disappointed, but she didn’t give up.
Thousands of miles across the country in Colorado, Lessa Ennis faced a similar situation. She wanted to give a kidney to her stepfather Jay Weenig, but the two were incompatible.
So the families took a bold new step to save their loved ones – they traded donors. Lessa Ennis flew to Augusta and donated a kidney to Lee Kingery at MCGHealth Medical Center, while at the same time, Gretchen Kingery donated her kidney to Jay Weenig at University of Colorado Hospital.
The late August surgeries marked the first paired organ transplant at MCGHealth. The families were connected through the Alliance for Paired Donation.
“With more than 80,000 people listed on the national kidney transplant waiting list and only about 10,000 anticipated donor kidneys a year, there is always a need for more living donors. This new strategy of connecting donors and recipients motivates more people to sign up as donors, thus saving more lives,” said Dr. James Wynn, Medical Director of the MCGHealth Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program.
MCGHealth Medical Center completed the first kidney paired donation recently when a husband received the kidney of a Texas woman while, simultaneously, his wife donated a kidney to a Colorado man. The four are (l-r) Lee Kingery and his wife Gretchen Kingery of Pulaski, Ga., Jay Weenig of Colorado and his stepdaughter Lessa Ennis of Texas.
MCG Health, Inc. (d/b/a MCGHealth) is a not-for-profit corporation operating the MCGHealth Medical Center, MCGHealth Children’s Medical Center, the Georgia Radiation Therapy Center, and related outpatient facilities and services throughout the state. For more information, please visit mcghealth.org.