Kidney swap program saved East Texan's life

By Sara Story - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - 11 years ago, Melissa Hurst discovered a strange rash on her body.

"They didn't know what it was from, so finally they did a biopsy and sent the biopsy off and the doctor came back and said my kidneys were failing," said Melissa.

So, Melissa's mom, Pat Alexander, decided to donate her kidney to her daughter. But, Pat's kidney wasn't a suitable match for Melissa.

"It's a hard feeling," said Pat. "You just want to help your kids and want the best for them."

Melissa was put on a transplant list and there she stayed for almost four years. Transplant surgeons say it's hard to find a matching donor for patients with rare conditions like Melissa.

"The problem is that we have too many people who need kidneys and not enough kidneys to go around," said Dr. Steven Potter, East Texas Medical Center Director of Transplant Surgeries.

But, Melissa and Pat weren't ready to give up. After looking at different options, she read an article about a kidney swap program called the Alliance for Paired Donation.

"Peace came over me and I felt like this was going to be right for us," said Pat. "There was hope."

Since Pat was willing to donate her kidney, the person receiving it had to find a friend or family member donate one in return. After only a few months, Melissa and pat found a match.

"She (Pat) was tested against my donor's husband and she was a match for my donor's husband," said Melissa.

Dr. Potter says there are no hospitals in East Texas that participate in the kidney swapping program, but for patients like Melissa who are willing to go anywhere, it is another chance at life.

"[It was] very life altering," said Melissa. "Definitely. It was a great experience."

Click here to learn more about the kidney swap program.

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