18 people involved in kidney transplant in San Francisco

Thursday, June 4, 2015
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A nine-way kidney transplant is happening over a 36-hour span in San Francisco and it all started with one altruistic donor.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A nine-way kidney transplant is happening right now in San Francisco. There are 18 people undergoing surgery between Thursday and Friday, thanks to one man who simply wanted to donate his kidney.

An altruistic donor wanted to give his kidney to someone, in fact, anyone who needed it.

"He's doing a wonderful thing. I think he felt the need to show gratitude in some way and this is how he's doing it and he's helping multiple people now," transplant surgeon Andrew Posselt, M.D.

The Bay Area man's decision to donate started a chain as the recipient of his kidney had a relative willing to donate, but who was not a match for their relative, so they gave their kidney to a stranger and so on.

In this case, the scenario is repeated nine times, for a total of 18 surgeries, including five husband-wife pairs.

The surgeries are happening at University of California, San Francisco and California Pacific Medical Center. In some cases, the kidneys are being transported between hospitals by courier.

"The chain can break at any place, so if one donor is ineligible or if one gets sick, the whole thing falls apart," Posselt said.

So far, so good in this case, with 10 surgeries down and eight to go -- and hopefully an inspiration to any future donors.

"A healthy person giving one kidney up is not going to hurt their health and it's not going to shorten their lifespan. It's a very safe thing," Posselt said.

A CPMC spokesman says this is believed to be one of the nation's first, single city transplant collaborations done over a 36-hour period.

Click here if you're interested in becoming an organ donor.