Yale-New Haven Hospital had a successful 18-patient, 9-kidney chain exchange that happened over the last two months.
It was the largest ever in Connecticut, according to hospital officials.
Hospital officials said all 18 patients were there.
The patients included a husband and wife from Bethel, a husband and wife from Sandy Hook, sisters from New Haven, a mother and son from Bridgeport, a donor from Dover Plains, NY and a donor from Laconia, NH.
They shared their personal experiences along with members of the organ transplantation team.
Robin Gilmartin from West Hartford was the person who got the ball rolling by offering to donate to a complete stranger.
She says she was moved by her time at the Veterans Affairs.
“It gave me an appreciation for the hardships that people on dialysis face,” said Gilmartin, who is a donor.
Patricia Villers, from Ansonia, was the recipient. She had polycystic kidney disease since she was 24.
“It came to the point where it was time. I had stage 4 renal disease,” Villers said.
On Thursday, Patricia met Robin, the woman who saved her life, for the first time.
“I've been nervous for days anticipating the meeting and I'm so happy to meet her, I can't thank her enough,” Villers said.
The largest kidney chain exchange in the state didn't happen easily.
Most people who donated, knew someone in need, but matched with a complete stranger.
Dr. Peter Yoo says it was a month’s long effort to not just find the matches, but then schedule a time that would work for all involved.
“Coordinate the operating room, will all the surgeons be available on those days, it's a huge logistical challenge,” said Dr. Yoo, of the Yale-New Haven Transplant Team.
The chain kept going as people kept paying it forward. Suzanne Watson is Patricia's sister-in-law.
“The chain begins. I donated to William and I couldn't be happier for both of them to receive the gift of life,” Watson said.
Some donors coming as far as Florida to save a life and be a part of Connecticut’s remarkable history.
“It's about facilitating kindness from one human being to another person in need,” Yoo said.
The procedures began on May 9 and recently ended.
All it takes is just one person to get this chain going. If you are interested, Yale New Haven is always looking for donors.
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