Three-Way Kidney Transplant Planned

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    It may seem commonplace for "Grey’s Anatomy" viewers, but doctors at a local hospital are about to undertake a rare three-way kidney swap.

    In what’s believed to be the first surgery of its kind in the county, doctors at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla are planning to take kidneys from three donors and transplant them into three recipients.

    Three-Way Kidney Transplant Underway

    [DGO] Three-Way Kidney Transplant Underway
    Doctors at a local hospital tackle a rare three-way kidney swap. (Published Wednesday, Dec 16, 2009)

    This surgery is particularly unique because family members will not be donating to their relatives.

    Here’s the breakdown: A man will give his kidney to a woman whom he has never met. That man’s wife will get a kidney from a woman whom she has never met. The second donor’s stepfather will receive a kidney from an outside donor he has never met.

    It took a year of testing and retesting to organize the domino transplants.

    "It was like moving the pieces of a puzzle to find out who were the best matches," Michelle Roberts, Scripps’ director of organ transplants told the North County Times.

    The practice is becoming more common in U.S. hospitals -- although it's not quite unique enough for prime-time television. When "Grey's Anatomy" did a kidney swap episode, a three-way swap wasn't enough -- the ficitonal doctors of Mercy General did a six-way swap.

    It’s doubtful you’ll be seeing the six people involved in this kidney swap on television anytime soon. They’ve all asked to stay anonymous.

    Read more about the surgery in the North County Times.