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Donation Heart Ribbon

San Diegans Join International Organ Donation Chain

Evening Edition

Aired 6/1/12 on KPBS News.

Two San Diegans are part of an international organ donation chain. It started last December when a woman in Oklahoma gave her kidney to a man in Greece.

Two San Diegans are part of an international organ donation chain. It started last December when a woman in Oklahoma gave her kidney to a man in Greece.

The chain wound its way to San Diego, where Genene Wiebe agreed to send her kidney to a patient in Ohio. Wiebe said she joined in the chain because she wanted to donate a kidney to her coworker, Bernard Tatum, but wasn’t a match.

“Until I found out in June, that I could not be a donor to Bernard directly, but that there was the pairing program, that because of that, I would be assured that Bernard to be blessed with a kidney,” Wiebe said.

Donor chains are a relatively recent phenomenon that allow donations for patients who can’t match with relatives and friends.

Chains start with someone donating an organ with the promise that the recipient then find a donor for another patient, said Randy Schafer, a transplant surgeon at Scripps Green Hospital. This creates a larger pool of potential matches.

“Just as Genene recently donated to someone in Ohio, soon that person's donor will give to someone in Georgia and it will spread to other states," Schafer said. "So long as the person receiving the kidney also has a donor, there’s that opportunity to keep this chain going. We’re really like dominos tipping the next one over.”

Ten people, including donors and recipients in Greece, Pennsylvania, Trinidad and Tobago and Denver, participated in the donation chain.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 1, 2012 at 7:28 p.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

Sounds like a good program that enables people to get transplants more quickly.

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Avatar for user 'LIFESHARERS'

LIFESHARERS | June 2, 2012 at 9:23 a.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

Your story about the International Kidney Exchange and Organ Donation highlighted the tragic shortage of human organs for transplant operations.

There are now over 11,000 people on the National Transplant Waiting List, with over 50% of these people dying before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage – give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. Everyone who is willing to receive should be willing to give.

Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling
1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 15,000 members as of this writing, including 1795 members in California.

Please contact me - Dave Undis, Executive Director of LifeSharers - if your readers would like to learn more about our innovative approach to increasing the number of organ donors. I can arrange interviews with some of our local members if you're interested. My email address is My phone number is 615-351-8622.

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