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San Diegans Join International Organ Donation Chain

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San Diegans Join International Organ Donation Chain
San Diegans Join International Organ Donation Chain
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.