5/01/02 - Breakthrough in Kidney Donations

In Baltimore, Maryland, doctors at Johns Hopkins University have announced a potentially revolutionary new procedure in kidney transplantation that could help 52,000 Americans get the organs they so desperately need.

Almost a prisoner in her home connected to a dialysis machine several times a day, 59-year old Susan Matthews knew she had to find a kidney donor. "My kidneys started to fail and I needed dialysis," Susan says. Three thousand miles away, her 32-year old son Kevin Isola was trying to help her. He wanted her to have one of his kidneys but their blood types didn't match. Her anti-bodies would have rejected the organ, that is until now.

In a major breakthrough, transplant surgeons at Johns Hopkins announced they have been successful in transplanting a kidney between any two people regardless of blood type. Dr. Robert Montgomery at Johns Hopkins University says, "If the donor is fit and the recipient is fit we can transplant." For a week or two before the transplant, researchers put the recipients blood through a machine which filters out the fluid containing the antibodies. So no antibodies, no rejection. 27 of 29 patients who have already received a kidney using this process are still rejection free.

For Susan and her son recovery has been quite easy. Susan says, "I feel better than I did ten years ago." Her son, Kevin says, "She brought me here so, it's really a wonderful feeling to give her back something like that."