The National Kidney Registry does something called the paired exchange program. The most recent exchange involves 70 people from across the country, including two people from Pennsylvania that had their operations done at Pinnacle Health Harrisburg Hospital.
“It is the gift of life and it is so special,” said Dena Shauf, who received a kidney.
Jeremy Walker of Huntingdon County wanted to give his kidney to Dena Shauf of Bedford County, but was not a match. Jeremy still wanted to help his friend so he signed up for the paired exchange program.
“There could be someone across the country that has the same situation and they match with a couple on the east coast and they basically just swap kidneys,” said Becca Brown a Pinnacle Health nurse manager, transplant services.
Although Walker did not know who would get his kidney, he did know his donation would mean Shauf would find a match.
“January 7, I got a call that they had found her a kidney. I am 32 years old and I was jumping around like a 5-year-old. It was something good that my friends wife is going get a second chance at life, so I was happy,” said Walker.
“He stepped forward and followed through the whole way and sure was my blessing,” said Shauf.
The two had their surgeries at Pinnacle Health Harrisburg Hospital. They had no idea they would be part of history.
“It was the largest paired exchange transplant that has been done to date,” said Brown. “It involved 35 pairs, so 70 people were involved in this gigantic kidney swap and it was really cool.”
People in 15 states and Washington D.C. are now connected. Most will never meet, but their decision to help others started a chain reaction that gave 35 people a second chance at life.
“It shows the power of what paired exchange can do,” said Brown
The final transplant will take place in May.