Paired and Chained Organs — The Future of Transplant

The following story is proof that people come up with brilliant ideas when they are in a life-or-death situation and think that there is no way out.

Rosalin Deveza was facing death. Her kidneys were failing, and there wasn’t a matching organ for her neither among family and relatives nor the deceased donors. However, her teenage daughter had no intention of throwing in the towel in this relentless fight for her mother’s life.

While she was desperately browsing the Internet in a search for a miraculous solution, she stumbled upon a research paper of a scientist who tackled the idea of “paired“ and “chained” donation in his dissertation about multi-organ exchange. Mr. Dickinson had already worked on the improvement of the UNOS system — the national system that contains all information about organ donors and recipients. So the logical step forward was devising a strategy to increase the number of possible organ donors, thus probable transplants. Dickinson had presented his findings as a theory packed with mathematical calculations and charts which showed that this project might increase the number of transplants by 25–30%.

Mrs. Deveza’s daughter ran into Dickinson’s dissertation while her mother was fighting for her life and managed to see through all the complex scientific work and realize that the core idea was quite simple — this was a kind of organ exchange program. People could lead normal lives with only one kidney; the donor only had to find a matching recipient who was obliged to find another kidney donor for a recipient that the first donor designated. That’s how chained or paired organs function.

Numerous transplant doctors and experts were introduced to the girl who just wanted to save her mother. The only thing she didn’t get was that these findings were theoretical and not an existing system that helped people get organs they needed. So when she called one hospital to ask for details about this system that could save her mother’s life, she left the doctors in awe. That’s how the entire undertaking had started. What makes the liver a perfect organ for this kind of exchange is this organ’s extraordinary ability to regenerate. So the girl wrote an email to an eminent transplant surgeon asking a simple question whether she could donate a piece of her liver in exchange for a healthy kidney for her mother from a living donor. Aliana Devesa has caused a revolution in the field of organ transplants by posing this question.

Fortunately, the story ended happily for her mom. Because after a long search, UNOS have found a patient who needed a liver, and her sister agreed to donate a kidney to Rosalin in exchange.

Rosalin Deveza is a healthy woman and a proud mom of a girl who started a life-saving initiative that will hopefully save numerous lives in the future.

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