April 16, 2015 12:30 AM
Joe Smydo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
With donations from cadavers unable to meet demand for organs, transplant experts in Pittsburgh and around the country Wednesday hailed a 68-person kidney chain as the kind of approach urgently needed to counter a growing transplant waiting list.
In what was described as the nation’s largest exchange to date, 34 people donated kidneys and 34 received them over a two-month period beginning in January. The exchange involved 26 transplant centers, including Allegheny General Hospital, which recovered organs from two donors and transplanted kidneys into two recipients.
“Logistically, it boggles my mind,” said Dennis Matteucci, 76, of North Lima, Ohio, one of those who received a kidney at Allegheny General. As he received his kidney Jan 6. from an exchange participant in Wisconsin, his wife, Roberta, 66, donated one of her kidneys to another participant in New York.
UPMC was not involved in this exchange, which began making national headlines on Tuesday, but participated in a 2011 chain that involved 16 donors, 16 recipients and 12 transplant centers. At the time, that was the largest exchange involving a Pittsburgh hospital.
Both exchanges were coordinated by the National Kidney Registry, which since 2008 has arranged more than 1,300 transplants.