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Kidney exchange in which Allegheny General Hospital participates enables 34 transplants

| Thursday, April 16, 2015, 12:04 a.m.

A Somerset County man and 33 other renal disease patients received new kidneys this year in an unprecedented national chain of organ transplants, Allegheny General Hospital announced Wednesday.

The North Side hospital is among 26 domestic transplant centers that participated in the exchange, run through March by the nonprofit National Kidney Registry. It is the largest multi-center paired kidney exchange so far in the United States, the registry said.

The approach targets transplant candidates who have willing — but medically incompatible — live donors, according to the hospital. A national network matches those candidates with other incompatible pairs, allowing them to swap would-be donors, the hospital said.

Renal patient Gary Watson, 65, of Meyersdale received a kidney March 26 at Allegheny General as part of the exchange. His donor gave the organ at the University of Maryland.

Meanwhile, Christina Brock, 44, a lifelong friend of Watson's daughter, donated a kidney at AGH for a patient at New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan.

Watson and Brock are recovering well, said Dr. Ngoc Thai, director at the AGH Center for Abdominal Transplantation. Brock also lives in Meyersdale.

“The number of people on the waiting list for kidney transplantation, unfortunately, continues to far exceed the supply of cadaveric donor organs,” Thai said. “Living donor transplantation is a terrific option, and the paired exchange process expands this possibility to many more people in need.”

Dennis Matteucci, 76, of Cleveland received a kidney Jan. 6 at AGH as part of the exchange. His wife, Roberta Matteucci, 65, donated a kidney for another recipient at the Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The New York-based kidney registry group has helped organize more than 1,300 transplants in the past six years, many of them through paired exchanges. About 16,000 people in the United States receive kidney transplants each year, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. About 80,000 people are waiting for one.

Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676.

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