94 days to life — March is National Kidney Month

Last updated: March 13. 2014 9:11AM -
Special to the Enterprise

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Nineteen people die every day in the United States waiting for a kidney transplant, most waiting seven to nine years.

The team at MatchingDonors.com is working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen by finding altruistic living organ donors for people needing kidney transplants.

The average patient gets their transplant through MatchingDonors.com within six months of signing up on the website.

Philip Cunningham, a 70-year-old husband, father and grandfather from Scarsdale, N.Y., needed a lifesaving kidney transplant. Philip thought all hope was lost for him. If he didn’t receive a lifesaving kidney transplant soon, he would die.

Besides having his own medical ailments, Philip was taking care of his ailing wife who suffers with lung disease, and also trying to enjoying the little time he thought he had left with his 4-year-old granddaughter. He thought that there were no other options left to save his life. He knew he would never last the 7 to 9 year wait for a deceased kidney donor from the government’s waiting list. He thought he was destined to waste away and die; staying on dialysis for five hours a day three days week.

Then one day his neighbor told him about a great website named MatchingDonors.com where he could quickly find a living altruistic organ donor and get his lifesaving transplant. Philip registered himself on the website and within only 14 days Philip found a matched donor. John McNicol, a perfect stranger, he met on MatchingDonors.com was willing to give Philip a lifesaving kidney. Within only 94 days, Philip received his lifesaving kidney transplant.

John McNicol, a 50-year-old father, grandfather, and former teacher from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.,wrote to Philip on MatchingDonors.com.

Now, because of a complete stranger he met on MatchingDonors.com Philip will witness his granddaughter grow up. He also will be able to continue spending time with his wife and his kids.

There have been over 300 transplant surgeries facilitated between a patient and altruistic donor that found each other through MatchingDonors.com.

John answered Philip’s plea instantly and was excited to help. He wanted to do this because he knew it was the right thing to do. In his words he did it because it would not affect him, but somebody else. John had found out about MatchingDonors through a documentary on television and knew he had to be a part of this very special thing. He was willing to risk his life to save another; a total stranger for him it was that simple.

MatchingDonors.com was launched in January 2004 as an Internet service based in Canton, Mass. Patients on transplant lists put their profiles on the website, and potential donors browse the site for a life they want to help save.

Donors are not compensated, since it is against the law to have any financial benefit from organ donation.

MatchingDonors.com is not an organ donor waiting list, and is not associated with any organ donor organization. It is a nonprofit venue where patients and potential donors can communicate and hopefully expedite a live donor agreeing to give a much-needed organ.

The personal connection between donor and recipient is the key.

MatchingDonors.com provides the opportunity to locate a potential live donor.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, “Nearly one out of four (23.4 percent) of 1,000 people queried told pollsters that they would be “likely” to consider donating a kidney or a portion of their liver or lung to help save the life of someone they did not know.” Many people feel more comfortable considering offering a live donation to someone they may have a connection with or a common bond.

As of March 3, there are 121,411 patients waiting for an organ transplant in the United States on the government’s deceased organ donor list. Yet, from January to November 2013, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, www.UNOS.org a non-profit organization contracted with the US Department of Health, there were only 26,517 organ transplants performed in the United States.

Currently, patients waiting for an organ donation are placed on the UNOS national waiting list through the United Network for Organ Sharing. A computer system matches patients to donor organs according to objective criteria such as blood and tissue type, immune status, medical urgency and time spent on the waiting list.

This ranking system determines which patients are offered available organs. This process is extremely important in anyone’s organ search, but now MatchingDonors.com offers a way to enhance the search with a more active approach. It also allows the patient to be proactive with his life.

MatchingDonors.com is now the largest living donor organization in the world.

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