The wait time for a kidney transplant can be years, but two Coloradans jump started the process. They participated in the longest ever multi-hospital kidney donation chain. The chain involved 70 patients in 13 states, linking people who were willing to donate, with people in desperate need.
Jerome Peralta and Michelle Martin are long-time family friends, and when Jerome’s kidneys began to fail, the 25-year-old firefighter from Henderson stepped up and offered to donate one of hers. She says she didn’t think twice about it. “The biggest thing that my mom has always taught me is to do whatever we can to help someone,” Martin said. But there was an issue. Michelle was not a match for Jerome. But that didn’t stop them from moving forward. Through the National Kidney Registry, Michelle was matched to another transplant candidate who also had an incompatible donor, and Jerome was paired with another donor in the pool. “Jerome got a kidney in exchange through this program because Michelle was willing to donate,” said Dr. Mark Jones, the transplant donor surgeon at Centura Health’s Porter Adventist Hospital. He says Michelle’s kidney went to San Francisco, and Jerome got a kidney from Virginia. In the process the two helped to make history with the longest multi-center kidney chain. “It was particularly unique because there were 35 donors, and 35 recipients, so 70 total patients who were involved in one large chain,” Dr. Jones said.
For Jerome, it’s a meaningful piece of history. “There are many, many individuals unfortunately, who pass away before that opportunity arises,” he said. He’s now feeling great, and so is Michelle. Doctors say patients can live normal lives with just one kidney. Now the two friends will be forever linked. “I can’t thank her enough for being there for me,” Jerome said.
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