Swedish sees surge in kidney donors following KIRO 7 story on donors giving kidneys to strangers

VIDEO: Surge in kidney donors following KIRO 7 story on donors giving kidneys to strangers

SEATTLE — In the last month, Swedish Hospital in Seattle has seen a surge of people coming forward to save the lives of complete strangers. Typically, Swedish Hospital has about 10 benevolent donors offer a kidney per year.

Those are healthy people who sign up to give their kidney to someone on the waiting list they don’t know.

After a KIRO 7 report about benevolent donors on February 14th Swedish has had 7 people sign up in the last month.

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“We were just amazed by the outpouring of altruism in the community,” Dr. Marquis Hart, Executive Director of Organ Transplants, told KIRO 7. “And these are people who otherwise weren't connected to the kidney community.”

Benevolent donors often have a much further reach than just the sick person getting their kidney.

“One benevolent donor can lead to multiple recipients receiving a kidney,” Dr. Hart explained. “So it starts a chain reaction of kidney donation.”

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Wendi Thomas, of Tacoma, is an example of how each benevolent donor can lead to multiple transplants. She signed up to give a kidney to a friend three years ago, but she wasn't a match. So when a benevolent donor matched her friend and gave a kidney, Wendi gave up hers to someone else.

“People ask me all the time, ‘Is it important for you to know who has your kidney?’” Thomas said. “And the answer is no. I mean, once you understand how powerful this process can be and donate an organ to literally save another person's life, it just becomes a compelling thing to do.”

Thomas and the Swedish Hospital organ transplant team emphasize that if you're interested, just make that initial contact and get the ball rolling. There are multiple steps along the way and you can change your mind if donating isn't right for you.

“It's such an easy process to do,” Thomas said. “I was back to work the next week.  I had no health issues following that. In fact, I was hiking in Santa Fe the next month.”

Click here or here for more information if you're interested in exploring becoming an organ donor.