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Couples swap living kidney donors

Couples swap living kidney donors
Posted at 6:48 PM, Apr 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-05 18:48:08-04

April is National Donate Life Month, a time focused on encouraging organ donor registration. More than 104,000 people are on the national transplant waiting list, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

"It was just a matter of time for when my kidneys would start getting worse and worse," said Marvis Killingsworth.

He needed a new kidney. For two years, he spent three days a week, five hours a day, in a building on dialysis.

"That limited a whole lot of things. Being able to work, being able to travel," Marvis said.

His wife Jackie was a match to be a living donor, so they scheduled a kidney transplant.

"We were getting ready for the transplant between her and I on September 26 and about eight, 10 days prior, she got a phone call," Marvis said.

At the same time, a woman named Lindsey Camp was looking for a kidney donor. Her husband Jentry Camp was not a match.

"[Jackie's] makeup was a direct match with another young lady that was looking to be transplanted, and on top of that, her husband was much more of a match for me," Marvis said.

"If that wouldn't have happened, it could have taken years. I had already been waiting for three," Lindsey Camp said.

So they swapped. Last September, Jackie donated her kidney to Lindsey, and Jentry donated his to Marvis.

More than 90,000 people in the US are currently waiting for a kidney transplant, according to Donate Life America. Three to five years is the average wait time for a kidney from a deceased donor.

"Quite honestly, I think the wait time will get longer," said Dr. Hassan Ibrahim, the Director of Transplant Nephrology at UTHealth Houston and Memorial Hermann in Texas.

This is why many looking for a kidney may turn to family, friends, or social media to find a living donor.

"Share your story. People who share their story are seven times more likely to find a live donor," Dr. Ibrahim said.

He was the transplant nephrologist that helped match the couples.

"It ended up working out, and it's been a blessing. I mean a true, true blessing," Camp said. "We feel now that they are a part of our family and our life, and we've gotten together a couple times since then."

For anyone considering becoming an organ donor, or a living organ donor, Jackie has one piece of advice.

"Do not be afraid, if you can or have something to help someone else, just go for it," she said.