Chain of Life
Five kidney chain-donors meet the patients they helped save.
Donating an organ is a big deal.
When it leads to a chain of five others getting an organ, it's simply amazing.
In a Thanksgiving gathering like none other, five kidney donors and their recipients who had their surgeries in July finally met each other for the first time at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis on Tuesday.
The chain began with Nicholle Hayes, who knew of no one currently needing a kidney but still chose to donate.
"When I got that call that it happened and they worked it out and that there were so many people in the chain, there's no words. I did one thing and this can happen. That's the best that's as good as it gets right there," she said.
Hayes donated to Shannon Peterson.
He said he had been using a wheelchair and his prognosis was no good.
Right after he got Peterson's kidney, his family watched in amazement as the pink returned to his face.
Now walking on his own, he said, "I'm grateful to be alive because of her."
Peterson's sister, Sheila Dalen then donated to a man who didn't want to be named and then his friend, Ann Agrimson donated to Pricilla Deshayes.
Deshayes wasn't sure if she'd ever find a donor.
"They said you're going to be hard to match, really hard, because I had quite a few antibodies," she explained.
But Agrimson was an exact match for Deshayes, as close as an identical twin.
Agrimson said even after she failed to match her friend she felt called to still donate.
Then Deshayes' loved one, John Tracy, gave to Robert Howden whose loved one, Heather Reinke, then donated to Matthew Kleve.
One donor and recipient meeting for the first time is joyful.
Five times the joy was almost overwhelming, it felt so good.
Deshayes joked as she stood next to Agrimson and said, "I'm going to put her on a list for further parts if I need them." Agrimson then burst out in laughter.
This chain of kidney donations through the Paired Donor Exchange Program took place over from July 13 to July 19, through three transplant programs at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview and Sanford Health Medical Center in Fargo, North Dakota.
All of the donors and recipients are doing very well and are incredibly thankful for each other.