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VUMC hosts Donate Life event

Mar. 31, 2016, 12:33 PM

Kimberley Hendrick, right, donated a kidney in exchange for a compatible kidney for her mother, Judy Stroud.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) will hold its seventh annual Donate Life Flag- Raising Ceremony on Thursday, April 7, as part of national Donate Life month.

The event celebrates organ donor families, living donors and hospital staff who care for donors and transplant recipients.

Kimberley Hendrick, one of the featured speakers, and her family will be among the guests. In what is called a “paired kidney exchange,” she donated her kidney to a complete stranger in another state in exchange for a compatible kidney for her mother.

The family agreed to participate in the swap, which offers an alternative to deceased-donor transplants for kidney recipients and donor pairs who are not compatible. With a paired kidney exchange or swap, organs can be exchanged between two compatible pairs, creating a chain of kidney transplants.

In this particular situation there were six people involved in the chain.

“We all want to help those we love,” said Hendrick, 46. “I was devastated when I heard I couldn’t donate to my mom, but then to realize that I was able to help someone I didn’t even know, or may never meet, and provide them with the quality of life I wanted for my mom.

“It opened a whole new door for us. There were other options available. I am so glad that we were open to this route.”

In February the Vanderbilt Transplant Center saw a record number of transplants with a total of 58.

“We have an aggressive program that tries to maximize the use of organs to get patients off the waiting list and restored to health,” said Douglas Hanto, M.D., Ph.D., director, Vanderbilt Transplant Center. “We have great teams in all organs that work in sync for the patients and coordinate care in an increasingly efficient way.”

In 2015, VUMC performed 446 transplants.

Surgery for Hendrick, her mother and the four other patients was on Nov. 4, 2015.

“I am a huge advocate for living donation and paired exchange,” said Hendrick. “My biggest message for patients — just because you can’t be a living donor for your loved one or your friend, there are other options.

“My mom has done fabulous and if I didn’t have a scar, you’d never know I even had surgery. This has been such a blessing because there was a bigger plan outside of just my mom.”

The flag-raising event will be held on the VUMC Plaza next to Au Bon Pain at 4 p.m.

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