Sixty-four year old Rick Poe’s first kidney failed due to complications from hypertension. He received a transplant in 2009, but he contracted pneumonia soon after and the organ failed. What followed were several long years of health challenges and dialysis. With a high antibody count, his chances for a life-saving transplant were slim. On the list for a cadaver donor, he might wait 11 years. Thanks to his transplant team at the Fort Worth Transplant Institute at Medical City Fort Worth and the National Kidney Registry SWAP program, he was transplanted in 4 months.

The National Kidney Registry (NKR) is a nonprofit organization with the mission to save and improve the lives of people facing kidney failure by increasing the quality, speed, and number of living donor transplants. While many patients may have a willing living donor, their bodies aren’t always compatible with their donors’ kidneys. This was the case with Mr. Poe and his cousin Toni Krebbs. Through the NKR, Mr. Poe and his donor were matched up with another incompatible donor-recipient pair to swap kidneys. Ms. Krebb’s kidney went to a patient in Cleveland, and Mr. Poe received a kidney from a young girl in California. Sometimes there are more than two pairs involved. The record was 30 in a transplant SWAP – until today. In kidney SWAP 357, 34 donor-recipient pairs resulted in many lives changed and saved. What began on January 6 with an altruistic donor concluded today. Mr. Poe was patient #4. “I have a new lease on life,” he says, “I feel better than I have in 10 years.”

Dr. George Rofaiel, surgical director of the Fort Worth Transplant Institute, was the transplant surgeon who performed the surgery in the record-breaking transplant chain. "This system allows us to combine the best of human generosity with the best science that there is,” said Rofaiel, “Seeing Mr. Poe and others do well is what makes us all keep doing the work that we do.”

The kidney transplant program at Medical City Fort Worth – Fort Worth Transplant Institute received CMS certification in May 2013. Since that time, the program has performed more than 67 transplants. According to Dr. Rofaiel, the hospital has at least three willing donors who will help start new kidney-SWAP chains in Fort Worth.

For more information on The National Kidney Registry visit www.kidneyregistry.org.