Three Transplant Patients In Northwestern Now Healthy

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Six people's lives dramatically changed when they were part of a rare kidney exchange that allowed three of them to receive life-saving organs. The surgery, known as a three-way domino paired kidney exchange, involved three kidney donors and three kidney recipients who underwent simultaneous transplant surgery. The surgery took place at Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Thursday, November 20.

Lamond Cogdell has been waiting for a kidney for two and a half years. His brother-in-law and close friend, Jerry Cole, saw Lamond's quality of life deteriorate and was eager to help him regain his health by donating a kidney. Unfortunately, routine testing found they were blood type incompatible and not a match.

After Barry Lamb's first kidney donor fell through, his daughter, Jennifer Gedville, decided to step in. Jennifer wanted to see her dad healthy and active like he used be, however blood screening found that they too were incompatible, and Jennifer would not be able to donate to her father.

A similar story played out for Clifton Smith, who has been on the transplant waiting list for over a year and did not have a compatible donor.


The fate of the patients changed when Lisa Schiralli presented herself to the hospital transplant program and offered one of her kidneys to whoever was in the greatest need. Unbeknownst to her, her act of kindness was the catalyst that set off a chain of compatibility for several recipients, by adding a third transplant candidate who was at the top of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) organ recipient list.

Exchanges such as this are known as domino exchanges because a Good Samaritan donor steps forward with no intended recipient. In the past doctors would give the kidney to the next person on the waiting list, but now the kidney transplant team uses a living donor matching system and is constantly scanning the database of donors and recipients to find incompatible pairs that may be matches for one another.

"Paired kidney exchanges are becoming more common and signal a trend in the field of organ transplantation," commented Joseph Leventhal, MD, PhD, director of the living donor kidney transplant program. "They have the potential to dramatically increase the number of patients that receive transplants."

"More than one-third of living kidney donor-recipient pairs are not compatible," said John Friedewald, MD, a transplant nephrologist. "Programs such as ours give patients options that didn't exist previously."

When asked what prompted her to donate her kidney, Lisa Schiralli commented, "The greatest gift you can give someone is another chance at life."