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UW Health Part Of New National Advanced Kidney Donor Program

UW Health, University of Wisconsin--Madison

One health system in Rockford is part of a national advanced kidney donor program that began about a year ago.

Stephanie Harris of West Chicago started researching how she could get a kidney for her father in September. Harris was cleared to donate in January as part of a donor chain, but she wasn’t a suitable match for her father.

Harris says three surgeries fell through before she got the call for a fourth one in May. She made it all the way to the University of Wisconsin, Madison hospital and found out that scheduled surgery fell through as well. Instead of going home, Harris said she decided to take the leap of faith and participate in the advanced kidney donor program anyway.

“The worst case scenario, you know, the worst possible outcome of this situation would be that I donate a kidney to somebody. You know? There was no negative,” Harris said.

Harris’s decision benefited about 10 people in need of kidneys. Unbeknownst to her at the time, her father ended up receiving his three weeks after she donated from someone else in the chain.

UW Health officials say they performed about 120 total live donor kidney transplants last year. National Kidney Registry CEO Garet Hil says more recent advanced donor program data is expected to be published in the next quarterly report in October.

Dr. Bob Redfield – a surgeon at UW Health – says the program works like this: Say a living kidney donor wants to donate a kidney, but the recipient isn’t ready for transplant at the time of the donation. The donor can go ahead and give the kidney anyway.

“And then, at a later date when the kidney recipient is ready for a transplant, they can receive a different kidney at a different time,” Redfield said.a

Redfield says the program through the National Kidney Registry is open to those within the UW Health network – including patients in Rockford. However, he says the surgeries are performed in Wisconsin.

Redfield says the advanced donor program within UW Health officially began almost a year ago. University of Chicago Medicine is also participating in the program.