3 donors, 3 receivers form a transplant "family" - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3 donors, 3 receivers form a transplant "family"

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - An East Texas man gained years to his life after entering into a new kidney program, that involved more than just a donor and a receiver.

Two and a half years spent on dialysis, Shawn Hearn waited for that perfect match.

"You hate it, but your so used to it and it's just there," says Hearn.

Willing and wanting, Shawn's mother, Donna Hearn, signed up to donate one of her kidneys, but she wasn't a match.

"In some cases the intended recipient for the kidney has a lot of antibodies, and can't get that kidney from that person and then it can become very challenging," says ETMC transplant surgeon, Dr. Steven Potter.

Thanks to a new system, Paired Donor Exchange, it made it possible for Donna to give, and Shawn to receive, with the help of four other people.

"My kidney went to a 42-year-old man, his wife gave her kidney to a 60-year-old man, his wife gave her kidney to Shawn, so it took all six of us to make it work," says Donna.

It's the first time east Texas performed the Paired Donor Exchange.

"We shuffle through hundreds of combinations until we found a good paired match and in this case we were able to do it so that three people got transplants, and not just two," says Dr. Potter.

With first time success....EMTC hope to sign more people up,"doing more of it, with the goal of getting as many people living donor transplants as possible, because this is the very best way to go if you need a kidney transplant," says Dr. Potter.

As far as Donna and Shawn, they want to meet the people in their life-changing circle. Donna says, "I can hardly wait, because they're part of us and we're part of them and it's a wonderful connection there."

After full recovery, Shawn hopes to raise awareness for kidney transplants, and especially the new Paired Donor Exchange option.

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