Mid-South sister participate in unique new organ donation 'swap' - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mid-South sister participate in unique new organ donation 'swap'

(WMC-TV) - It's a medical breakthrough that's come in the form of a simple idea: Now, you can help a loved one get a kidney, regardless of whether or not you and the recipient are a match.

Sisters Vernita Jarmon and Linda Richmond were the first siblings in Tennessee to take part in the program. Even though they weren't a medical match, Jarmon is the reason her sister has a new kidney.

"They said, 'You won't actually be giving her a kidney in this case, but you'll be donating to someone else. That way, she can receive a kidney.' I was like, "Oh, really?" Jarmon said.

Through the revolutionary yet simple concept, Jarmon donated her kidney to a stranger. That act ensured another stranger would donate a kidney to Jarmon's sister, Linda Richmond.

This program, called paired donor transplantation, allows patients who do not have a compatible living kidney donor to be paired with another patient who also does not have a compatible living donor.

These patients swap donors so they each have a compatible kidney donor and they can each receive the life saving organ they need.

Dr. Vinaya Rao, along with a Methodist University Hospital and University of Tennessee Health Science Center team, helped bring the paired donation program to Tennessee.

"With this program, we have an option of increasing our living donor pool," Rao said.

This outcome is exactly what Dr. Rao says she lives for.

"It's a feeling you can't explain," she said. "It's indescribable - that's why we get up and come to work each day."

"I feel great," Richmond said, describing her life after the transplant. "(I'll have) a long time with my grandbabies."

According to Methodist University Hospital, the number of people waiting for kidneys continues to increase. In 2006, that number surpassed 60,000 and now, the number is close to 90,000. Only 17,000 people a year receive kidney transplants.

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