CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two West Virginians are off the waiting list for kidneys at Charleston Area Medical Center’s Kidney Transplant Center in Charleston, the only kidney transplant center in West Virginia.
Dwight “Dave” Kent from Tornado and Brian King from Charleston, who were previously suffering from kidney failure, are the recipients of the first-ever living donor kidney transplant paired exchange in West Virginia, what is sometimes called a “kidney swap.”
On Jan. 30, Kent’s son, Dustin Kent from St. Albans, who was not a donor match for his father gave a kidney to King.
A day earlier, King’s wife, Pam King, who was not a donor match for her husband, donated a kidney to Dave Kent.
All four were part of a Tuesday press conference at CAMC after positive checkups with their doctors who also spoke about the inaugural procedures.
“I was needing a kidney really bad. My son, he wanted to donate and things didn’t work out. He was devastated on that. Things wasn’t looking good, but with help from the transplant team here at CAMC, they made it possible,” Dave Kent said.
Alice Jones, a nurse and living donor coordinator at the CAMC Kidney Transplant Center, said the idea started with Pam King, who she described as “an extremely motivated donor.”
“When we realized that her blood type wasn’t compatible (with her husband’s), it devastated me and I know it devastated them and I told her, ‘Pam, there may be option to do an exchange. Something we haven’t done yet, but we could,'” Jones said.
“I started going through all of my other donors and I’m, like, ‘Oh my gosh, this will work.'”
She had found Dustin Kent on the prospective donor list who was not a match for his father.
His father’s blood type, which was rare, Jones said, did match Pam’s blood type.
Though there are many other factors beyond a matching blood type that makes pairing possible, “It just felt like it was meant to be,” Jones said.
Discussions of the potential kidney swap started within the families before Thanksgiving.
“We did all the testing and, once we got to meet Pam and Brian King, we realized how great they really were — just a great family — after that, it wasn’t even a question,” Dustin Kent said.
The transplant surgeons were Dr. Alvin Wee and Dr. Joseph Africa. Dr. Arpit Bhargava was the nephrologist.
Recovery for all four patients will continue into the spring, at least.
“It’s been a wonderful trip,” Dave Kent said. “There’s been some ups and downs, but we’re all doing well and things are looking up and I’m really grateful to everyone.”
Before this, the Kents and the Kings had never met.
“We share DNA and it has been remarkable to meet new family,” said Brian King. “That’s all I can say, that we have new family.”
Since 1987, the CAMC Kidney Transplant Center has transplanted 1,190 kidneys in patients ranging from 16 months in age to more than 80 years old. Transplants have involved 268 living donors.
“I would like more people to consider donation,” Pam King said. “It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is a reward like none other.”
There are currently 156 CAMC Kidney Transplant Center patients on the waiting list for kidney transplants.
More information about organ donation is available HERE.