The Altruistic Living Donor Program matches altruistic donors with recipients awaiting transplantation. There are two types of altruistic donation; directed and non-directed. For directed altruistic donation, the potential donor may have some knowledge of the recipient for example through church, synagogue or mutual acquaintance. With non-directed altruistic donation, a donor wishes to donate a kidney to a person on the waiting list who he or she does not know.
We consider altruistic living donation to be a very unique and special situation since there are no obvious benefits to the potential donor. The transplant team is available to fully evaluate all potential living donors, whether living-related, emotionally-related or altruistic. The Barnabas Health Renal and Pancreas Transplant Division is experienced in the evaluation and management of all living donors.
Saint Barnabas’s First Altruistic Living Donation
In 2004, the kidney transplant team at the Renal and Pancreas Transplant Program at Saint Barnabas Medical Center performed the center’s first anonymous stranger-to-stranger living donation kidney transplant. While the donation of a kidney to a spouse, good friend or in-law is now a widespread practice, non-directed altruistic donation is emerging as the latest renal transplant option available at this country’s most progressive transplant centers.
“Donating an organ is something I have thought about for as long as I can remember,” says William Waldenmaier, 44 of Middletown who donated one of his kidneys to Christopher Perone of Metuchen.
As with all non-directed altruistic donations, Mr. Waldenmaier had no control over the destiny of his donated kidney. “My only wish was that it go to someone whose quality of life would be improved and who could lead a normal life after the transplant,” he remembers.
According to the Saint Barnabas Transplant Program’s protocol, the transplant team may not disclose the identity of the donor or recipient until after the surgery is complete and then only if both parties agree. “Both men expressed a desire to meet the other so we arranged a meeting before Mr. Waldenmaier was discharged from the hospital,” explains Marcia Krupit, M.S.W., one of three transplant social workers on the Saint Barnabas team.
Mr. Perone, the father of two boys, learned that he would be receiving a kidney from a kindhearted stranger only 10 days before the scheduled surgery. “I couldn’t imagine that a healthy person would walk into a hospital and want to donate an organ for a stranger,” he recalls. “I really drifted through the next several days trying to work out what seemed so unreal to me. When I was on peritoneal dialysis I used to hope that I could live for another 10 years, -- until my youngest son was 18. This transplant gives me longevity to see my children become men.”
“It takes an extraordinary person to do what Bill did for me,” remarks Mr. Perone. “I am humbled by his gift.” The two men have remained in contact and when he is fully recovered from the transplant, Mr. Perone says he would like his sons to meet Mr. Waldenmaier.
“This successful transplant is a-dream-come true for our entire team,” stresses Ms. Krupit. We have worked for several years developing an altruistic donor program that makes more organs available to people with renal disease, but also protects the health and well-being of the generous individuals who make the donation. The success of this transplant illustrates what we all believe --that one person’s desire to help someone else is enough to make this possible.”
For further information on kidney or pancreas transplantation, please call the Saint Barnabas Medical Center at
1-888-409-4707 or Newark Beth Israel Medical Center at
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