Posted: 12/03/2013 5:20 pm EST
In an incredible example of paying it forward, 100 lives have been saved by strangers involved in a kidney exchange program.
At the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center Monday, recipients and donors in UCLA’s Kidney Exchange Program gathered together, some meeting for the first time, KTLA reports in the video above.
The UCLA Kidney Exchange Program gives patients who are unable to receive a kidney from a loved one the chance to receive a kidney through an exchange between incompatible donor-recipient pairs. Without such a program, patients without a willing and blood-type-compatible relative have to wait in long national waiting lists for a kidney from a deceased donor.
Sheila Whitney of Compton, Calif. told CBS that receiving a kidney from a donor in Michigan “was like a miracle.” Whitney’s son, Reggie, then donated his kidney to a man whose wife then gave her kidney to another woman.
“[The program] opened the doors, the floodgates, to hundreds and hundreds of people to be able to get a transplant,” Greg Thompson, a kidney donor, told NBC. The UCLA exchange program is about to perform its 105th kidney transplant.
“They come from different backgrounds, different ethnicities,” Dr. Jeffrey Veale said to NBC. “It just goes to show: we’re all one and the same.”