Yale New Haven Hospital announces the first 8-patient, paired kidney transplant exchange in Connecticut

At left, in yellow, is altruistic donor Patricia Menno-Coveney, who started the chain with her offer to donate a kidney. She joins (clockwise from top right) Peter Schulam, MD, donor Sylvie Murphy and recipient Raymond Murphy.

New Haven, CT (March 12, 2015) — Yale New Haven Hospital announced today that surgical teams at the hospital performed an eight-patient, paired kidney transplant exchange on March 3, 2015. This was the first time that a kidney transplant exchange of this magnitude has ever occurred on one day in Connecticut, March is also national kidney month.

"All eight surgeries occurred on the same day and all procedures were deemed a success," said David Mulligan, MD, director, Yale New Haven Transplantation Center, and professor of surgery at Yale School of Medicine. "This series of living donor kidney transplants represents the largest internal kidney transplant exchange performed in Connecticut."

All eight patients — one female altruistic donor, three married couples and one male recipient are all Connecticut residents. Altruistic donor Patricia Menno-Coveney from Mystic started this amazing chain of events when she offered to donate her kidney. The YNHH organ transplant program utilized a computer program that matches incompatible donors with recipients with other donor and recipient pairs that are not a match. Due to Ms. Menno-Coveney's generosity, the team was able to organize a chain of transplants with other donor-recipients registered with the YNHTC.

"In years past, an altruistic donor's gift would result in providing a life-saving transplant to one fortunate person," said Sanjay Kulkarni, MD, director of the kidney and pancreas transplant program. "Today, we were able to celebrate four life-saving transplants started with a great gift from our altruistic donors' gift. Interestingly, all donors were female, while all recipients were male. Women have always represented a greater percentage of living kidney donors and this exchange just reinforced the important place women have in living donation."

Ms. Menno-Coveney was found to be a match for David Rennie of Shelton. Margaret Rennie, David's wife, donated her kidney to Raymond Murphy of Old Saybook. Sylvie Murphy, David's wife, donated a kidney to Mr. Mario Garcia from New Haven. Hilary Grant, Mario's wife, then donated her kidney to Edward Brakoneikii of Stamford, who has waited five years for a deceased donor kidney transplant. The eight surgeries began on a staggered schedule which started at 7:30 a.m. on March 3, with the final kidney transplanted just before 6 p.m. on the same day.

"This ground-breaking kidney exchange required an orchestrated effort among multiple teams," said Peter Schulam, MD, professor and chair/chief of Urology at YNHH and Yale School of Medicine. "In addition to the physicians, there are numerous transplant coordinators, nurses, residents, advanced practice providers and hospital staff who played a critical role in the execution of this event. This success demonstrates the skill, collaboration and compassion of all those involved in patient care at Yale New Haven Hospital."

Living donor transplantation are real-life examples of how every healthy person can truly be a hero and save a life for someone else. As of Sept. 8, 2014, there were 123,175 people waiting for life-saving organ transplants in the United States. Of these, 101,170 are awaiting kidney transplants. In 2013, the last year full data was available, 16,896 kidney transplants took place in the United States. Of these, 11,163 kidney transplants came from deceased donors and 5,733 came from living donors.

Living donor transplants are much more easily performed with today's advanced technologies using laparoscopic surgery. What used to require a six to eight week recovery period for living donors can now be accomplished with virtually overnight stays in the hospital and a return to full activity in as little as two to four weeks. These types of transplants also are by far the best option for all recipients in terms of immediate organ function and long term success while being extraordinarily safe for both donors and recipients.

"Expanding living kidney donation represents the most plausible solution to the organ shortage problem," said Dr. Kulkarni. "At Yale New Haven Hospital, honoring living donors is a priority and we greatly appreciate all the living kidney and liver donors that have provided life-saving transplants for our patients throughout the years."

View the Donors and Recipients (PDF)

Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH), part of Yale New Haven Health, is a nationally recognized, 1,541-bed, not-for-profit hospital serving as the primary teaching hospital for the Yale School of Medicine (YSM). Founded as the fourth voluntary hospital in the U.S. in 1826, today, YNHH has two New Haven-based campuses, and also includes Yale New Haven Children's Hospital, Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and Smilow Cancer Hospital. YNHH has received Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the nation’s highest honor of nursing excellence. YNHH has a combined medical staff of about 4,500 university and community physicians practicing in more than 100 specialties. www.ynhh.org