12 surgeons, 10 hours, 10 patients: Quintuple Kidney Transplant - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/20/06-BALTIMORE, Maryland

12 surgeons, 10 hours, 10 patients: Quintuple Kidney Transplant

Kidney recipient Sheila Thornton thanks Johns Hopkins Hospital and transplant surgeon Robert Montgomery. Kidney recipient Sheila Thornton thanks Johns Hopkins Hospital and transplant surgeon Robert Montgomery.
Kidney recipient Kristine Jantzi, left, and altruistic donor Honore Rothstein, right, meet for the first time after the quintuple tranplant. Kidney recipient Kristine Jantzi, left, and altruistic donor Honore Rothstein, right, meet for the first time after the quintuple tranplant.

 It took 12 surgeons, six operating rooms and five donors to pull it off, but five desperate strangers simultaneously received new organs in what hospital officials Monday described as the first quintuple kidney transplant.

All five recipients -- three men and two women -- were doing fine, as were the five organ donors, all women, said Eric Vohr, a spokesman at the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Transplant Center. The donors and recipients came from Canada, Maine, Maryland, West Virginia, Florida and California.

Several triple transplants have been done at Johns Hopkins, but hospital officials said the five simultaneous transplants performed Tuesday were a first.

Four of the sick patients had approached Johns Hopkins with a relative who was willing to donate a kidney but was an incompatible donor. The fifth had been on a waiting list for a kidney from a dead person.

Together, those nine people and an "altruistic donor" had enough matched kidneys among them to pull off a five-way swap.

The altruistic donor, Honore Rothstein, decided to donate a kidney after losing her husband and daughter to accidents and illness, Vohr said. She did not know any of the donors or recipients.

The operations involved six operating rooms, 12 surgeons, 11 anesthesiologists, and 18 nurses, and took place over 10 hours. The removal of the donor organs began at 7:15 a.m. and was completed by 11 a.m. The kidneys were implanted in operations that began at 1 p.m. and were finished at 5:15 p.m.

Last year, Johns Hopkins doctors performed a triple transplant also involving an altruistic donor who was willing to give his kidney to anyone in need. The donor was a member of a Christian group, many of whose members have given kidneys to strangers.

Annie Moore, a spokeswoman for the United Network for Organ Sharing, the nonprofit organization that coordinates U.S. organ transplants, said she wasn't aware of any other quintuple kidney transplants. Triple transplants are the most that have been performed to date, and paired transplants are more common, Moore said.

Most kidney transplants use organs taken from cadavers, but doctors prefer taking organs from live donors because the success rates are higher.

In a live-donor practice used increasingly in the U.S. over the past few years, a patient who needs a kidney is matched up with a compatible stranger if the patient lines up a friend or relative willing to donate an organ to a stranger, too.

Dr. Robert Montgomery, director of Hopkins' transplant center and head of the transplant team, called Monday for a national kidney-swap program, saying it could help ease the nation's shortage of transplant organs and cut costs by getting people off dialysis.

He noted, however, that live-donor kidney swaps present ethical problems for some institutions since federal law prohibits receiving something of value in exchange for an organ. Some institutions feel multiple arrangements come uncomfortably close to quid pro quo, Montgomery said. He called for a clarification of the law.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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