6 strangers involved in 3-way kidney transplant meet for the 1st time

Six People Are Forever Connected Through 3-Way Kidney Organ Transplant
Six People Are Forever Connected Through 3-Way Kidney Organ Transplant

These New York organ donors proved that being deemed 'not-a-match' with their loved ones is not the end of their transplant process.

READ MORE: Girl, 8, Undergoes Rare Quadruple Organ Transplant

For the first time since their three-way daisy chain kidney swap, the six people involved -- three donors and three recipients -- are gathered in the same room.

"I'm so grateful," organ recipient Elaine Richards, 59, said in the press conference. "I have a new life. I feel good."

Dawn Bates, 49, said at the North Shore University Hospital: "My impulse was to help my niece. When I realized we weren't comparable, it occurred to me there was still an opportunity to help someone else who had a great need."

Bates from Deer Park, originally became involved when her niece, Nicole Johnson went into acute kidney failure in 2014.

But in her goodwill, she was matched with another woman, Tiffany Tung, and donated her kidney to the stranger in October 2015.

Tiffany Tung, 34, is a paralegal living in Westbury. Though the North Shore University Hospital suspected her husband, Terry Fung Ching, 31, was a match, he was not be able to complete the kidney work-up in time for the October donation.

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Ching was later determined to be a suitable donor for Elaine Richards, a 59-year-old woman living in Uniondale, who had been on dialysis since 2012. They did transplant surgery in December, 2015.

Because the transplant center also found that Elaine Richards' daughter-in-law, Catherine Richards from Hempstead was a fit for Nicole Johnson, she donated her kidney to the first woman in the chain in February 2016.

READ MORE: 8-Year-Old Becomes Youngest Patient to Ever Receive a Double-Hand Transplant

Dr. Nicole Ali, the medical director of the transplant center, said in a press conference that while matches are not guaranteed, if an organ donor agrees to be involved in a daisy chain transplant, where potential donors are matched with random recipients with hopes that they will spark a chain of matches, their intended recipient's wait for an organ could may be shorter.

Ali also said in the press conference that many people on the transplant list die waiting, but thanks to the generosity of everyone involved, each donor and recipient are deemed to be in excellent condition.

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