- The Washington Times - Friday, August 1, 2003

BALTIMORE — Surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital have performed what is believed to be the world’s first “triple swap” kidney transplant operation, giving three sick patients kidneys from healthy donors they had never met before.

A woman from Miami, a woman from Pittsburgh and a 13-year-old from Maryland, all of whom were on dialysis, came to the hospital with willing donors whose blood or tissue types didn’t match their own.

Nurses with Johns Hopkins’ incompatible kidney transplant program made matches among the three pairs from a hospital database of about 60 pairs, and doctors performed the surgeries Monday.

“It was truly a marathon,” the lead surgeon, Dr. Robert Montgomery, said yesterday of the 11 hours medical teams worked in six operating rooms. “It was really possible because these three donors desperately wanted to see their loved ones receive a kidney and were open to any possibility to make that happen.”

There were two surgeons, two anesthesiologists and two nurses in each operating room.

“All six operations were performed simultaneously to minimize the amount of time the kidney is outside the donor and recipient,” Dr. Montgomery said.

He called the coordinated surgeries, with nurses rushing donated kidneys in labeled coolers from the donors to the recipients, “logistically a monumental experience.”

Dr. Montgomery said the patients and donors were doing well. The pairs met yesterday at Hopkins for the first time.

The donors were Julia Tower, 57, from Hyattsville; Connie Dick, 41, from Latrobe, Pa., and Paul Boissiere, 30, from Coral Gables, Fla.

The recipients were Jeremy Weiser-Warschoff, 13, from Silver Spring; Tracy Stahl, 39, from Johnstown, Pa., and Germaine Allum, 30, of Coral Gables, Fla.

“It’s like hitting the lottery,” said Janet Hiller, a nurse manager with the matching program whom Dr. Montgomery called a “kidney matchmaker.”

Miss Allum, who received her kidney from Miss Dick, said the group has a special bond.

“We each have a piece of each other inside us,” Miss Allum said through tears.

Miss Allum’s fiance, Paul Boissiere, couldn’t donate to her because he had an incompatible blood type. But he was able to give a kidney to Jeremy. He held a picture of Jeremy, who was resting in his hospital room, during yesterday’s news conference.

Julia Tower wanted to donate a kidney to Jeremy, who is the son of friends. Instead, she gave Miss Stahl a kidney when it was determined that Miss Tower’s tissue type was the only one compatible with Miss Stahl’s.

“I looked into Tracy’s eyes [yesterday] and felt a bond that I’d never thought of before,” Miss Tower said. “It’s wonderful.”

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